Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Muse: Missouri's Poet Laureate

William Trowbridge is Missouri's third poet laureate. The successor to David Clewell, Trowbridge was appointed on April 13, 2012. Missouri's governor named Trowbridge to the two-year position on the recommendation of an advisory committee that included representatives of the Missouri Center for the Book.

My profile of Clewell includes information about the honorary position. 

As Poet Laureate, Trowbridge is traveling the state, lecturing on and reading poetry and holding workshops in schools and universities, libraries, bookstores, and civic and community organizations and at book festivals and other literary gatherings.

* * * * *
I just love to do it...
Writing poetry is a way of making things with language.
~ William Trowbridge*

William Trowbridge, Ph.D., is the author of five poetry collections: the marvelous Ship of Fool (Red Hen Press, 2011), a rich evocation of the human condition as epitomized by the archetype and character of the fool; The Complete Book of Kong (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2003), which was a finalist for a William Rockhill Nelson Award in poetry; Flickers (University of Arkansas Press, 2000 ), O Paradise (University of Arkansas Press, 1995), and the debut Enter Dark Stranger (University of Arkansas Press, 1989). Trowbridge's three chapbooks include, most recently, The Packing House Cantata (Camber Press, 2006). Trowbridge has recorded more than two dozen of his poems from Ship of Fool for the CD Ship of Fool: The Musical, orchestrated by Bob Walkenhorst.

Trowbridge is planning a "New and Selected" collection of his work.

While Trowbridge's beautifully crafted and cadenced poems — now more than 300 in number — are marked by considerable wit and humor, they should not be considered light verse, he has emphasized, noting, "Humor is an imposer of realism." Trowbridge gets at universal truths not only through humor but also through attention to the nuances of language, distinguishing his work with an undeniable and profound love of words and their meanings.

Within that broad theme of the human condition, Trowbridge addresses ideas of choice, failure, redemption, nostalgia, aging, getting along in this world, making deft use of myths and allusions, jargon and turns of phrase, pop culture, and historical and literary references that inform his poems' unforced wisdom. His subjects range from Buster Keaton to King Kong, from Muhammad Ali to Stan and Ollie, from Godzilla to God. All are part of the examined life that is much a part of Trowbridge's writing.

A few lines from his inventive poems give an idea of Trowbridge's remarkable ear for language and gift for characterization:

OK, not the Eden, wasted on that pair
of gorgeous nitwits, but a pretty nice place
by Fool's lights, a little stucco number
tucked away in a little suburb bordered
by a mini-mall—just the spot to lever up
your dogs in the recliner and contemplate
the polka of the spheres. . . .
~ From "Fool Expelled From Eden" in Ship of Fool

While I watch my son flail out beyond my call
on the boogie board we rented, everything
goes California —big blue swells cresting white,
beach blankets, beach games, beach sun,
beach flies — and here I stand, like a scarecrow
blown in from some prairie. . . .
~ From "Living with Solar Keratosis" from O Paradise

The Kiss of Death

is a family kiss, blood to blood,
Michael Coreleone
gripping brother Fredo
by the chops
and planting a big one. . . .
~ From "The Kiss of Death" in Flickers

Numerous literary magazines and periodicals, including Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg ReviewThe Iowa Review, New Letters, PoetryPrairie Schooner, RattleRiver StyxThe Southern Review, Tampa Review, and Tar River Poetry, have published Trowbridge's poems and his work appears in more than 30 anthologies and textbooks.

Trowbridge, who teaches in the low-residency MFA-in-writing program at the University of Nebraska and is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Northwest Missouri State University, is the recipient of Academy of American Poets and Pushcart prizes, as well as the Camber Press Poetry Chapbook Award. He also has been awarded MacDowell Colony and Yaddo fellowships, among other honors.


* Quoted from Northwest Missouri State University Media Center News Release, April 4, 2013

Photo of William Trowbridge Courtesy Missouri Arts Council

All Poem Excerpts © William Trowbridge

Announcement of Governor Jay Nixon's Appointment of William Trowbridge

William Trowbridge Poems Online: "Fool's Paradise", "The Juggler", "Seismic", "Fool and His Money", "Fool Noir", "Ninety-Seven-Pound Fool", "The Right Stuff", "Pity the Fool", "Obedience", "Curtain Call", "Living with Solar Keratosis", "Stark Weather", "The Kiss of Death", "Father and Son Project 220: Model Airplane Building", "Kong Turns Critic", "That Time of Year", and "Poets' Corner", All at William Trowbridge Website; "Monster", "Enter Dark Stranger", and "Kong Views and Experimental Art Film at the City Library", All at Nebraska Center for Writers; "And Now, As Promised" and "Wolf", Both at plume; "World's Biggest Fool" and "Cabfare from the Airport" at Asinine Poetry; "Rental Tux" at American Life in Poetry and Poetry Foundation; "Free Verse" at St. Louis Beacon; "Unofficial Missouri Poem" (pdf); "Drumming Behind You in the High School Band" at The Writer's Almanac; "Kong Discovers He's Immortal" at Literary Salt; "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Love" at Lunch Ticket; "Company Man" at Platte Valley Review; "WOW" (excerpt from poem published in Prairie Schooner)

"Finalist Press", Essay by William Trowbridge at Red Hen Press Blog, February 21, 2011

Derek Alger Interview with William Trowbridge, pif Magazine, June 3, 2011 (This is an excellent, highly informative conversation with the poet.)

Jabulani Leffall's Central Standard KCUR Interview with William Trowbridge, 2012 (Audio) (In this very good 50-minute interview, Trowbridge describes his inspiration for and creation of Ship of Fool and discusses and reads a number of his poems. His readings are wonderful.)

BlogTalkRadio's Joe Milford Show with William Trowbridge, 2011 (Audio) (This interview also focuses on Ship of Fool.)

Podcast at via Negativa

Review of Ship of Fool at Green Mountains Review, February 27, 2013

Review of Ship of Fool at Sugar House Reviews, April 17, 2012

Review of Ship of Fool at The Southeast Review, May 11, 2011

Enter Dark Stranger on GoogleBooks

O Paradise on GoogleBooks

William Trowbridge Readings at YouTube: 2007 Reading, Parts 1 and 2; 2006 Reading, Parts 1 and 2

William Trowbridge on FaceBook

Andrew Kowal, "William Trowbridge Spins Witty Poetry", The Oswegonian, September 29, 2011

Red Hen Press

University of Arkansas Press

Verses and Voices

1 comment:

Deborah said...

A great introduction to a poet who is new to me. "Making things with words" - I like that phrase very much.