Thursday, September 29, 2011


Joey Brown reads at the Opening Night of the Neustadt Festival 2011 at the Train Depot in Norman.
Continuing left to right are Carol Hamilton, Ken Hada, Dorothy Alexander, Benjamin Myers, and Nathan Brown.  Photo c. by Nancy Condit

By Nancy Condit

Six Oklahoma poets opened the Neustadt Festival 2011, sponsored by World Literature Today and the University of  Oklahoma, with a terrific evening of poetry readings Tuesday night.  People who have never attended en evening of professional poetry might be interested in hearing an event of exciting ideas expressed in poetic and narrative form.

Musician, photographer and award winning Norman poet Nathan Brown was master of ceremonies at the event at the Train Depot in Norman.  He also speaks on the need for  people not to give up on poetry.  He is the author of Letters to the One-Armed Poet: A Memoir of Friendship, Loss and Butternut Squash Ravioli, which came out this spring.  One Table Over won the 2009 Oklahoma Book Award.

Dorothy Alexander, with her distinctive red hat, is a poet, storyteller, and publisher from Cheyenne, Oklahoma.   Her book Lesson from an Oklahoma Girlhood combines striking perspectives of rural life and the visual art of twenty Oklahoma women artists (from the program).

Joey Brown's works, including poetry, fiction and essays, are filled with the details she has seen traveling to southern Oklahoma towns, including farmer's tans, yards of weeds, oil field workers, scrub oaks, drill bits, wheat fields, cafes, cowboys and wind-bent trees.  Oklahomaography, her collection of poetry, was published in 2010.

Ken Hada is a fourth-generation Oklahoman, descendant of Danish and Hungarian immigrants; Gypsy poets, barn dance aficionados, art lovers, amateur philosophers, wheat farmers, preachers, teachers, and common-sense craftsmen -- the program or Mr. Hada's phrasing.  He has published two books of poetry -- The Way of the Wind and Spare Parts.

Adding another dimension to her love of words, Carol Hamilton also translates at a clinic for women and children and medical teams to Latino countries. The glasses' holders are because she is a grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of six. Photo c. by Nancy Condit

Carol Hamilton spoke at the short mike, having lost her bid for the tall mike used by Hada. The former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma has won an Oklahoma Book Award, and taught elementary school through college.  She has published sixteen books of poetry, children's novels and legends.

Benjamin Myers' first book, Elegy for Trains, won the 2011 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry.  His work has also been published in the anthologies Ain't Nobody that Can Sing Like Me: New Oklahoma Writing, and America at War.

This year's winner of the Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature goes to Virginia Euwer Wolff.  Since this is an uneven numbered year, the prize for goes to a living writer "with significant achievement, either over a lifetime or in a particular publication.  The essential criterion... is that the writer's work is having a positive impact on the quality of children literature," (from the brochure).

For more information about the Neustadt Prize, go to  For more details about World Literature Today the website is

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