Tag Archives: Storyline

“Storyline” by Andy Wilkinson

 

On February 2, 2017, Andy Wilkinson delivered the Keynote Address to the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Addressing this year’s theme of ‘story’, his poetic treatise on the creative process received a standing ovation and is now available from Dry Crik Press in book form.

 

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ISBN-10: 1883081106
ISBN-13: 978-1883081102
50 pages

 

INTRODUCTION

For a long time now, I have been studying and thinking on story and narration, mostly in terms of how they are fundamental to creative process. So when asked to deliver the keynote address for the 2017 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering – with its theme being storytelling – I jumped at the chance. I chose poetry and song over prose, both to honor the substance and history of the Gatherings and to force myself to a finer, deeper understanding of the topic and task.

Then, all the while I was writing, an already-divided nation split even wider, adding not only a new perspective to the work, but also an urgency. For reconciliation, I now believe, is itself a creative process, one without beginning or end, inseparable from story and narration. And that, in turn, gives me hope for a kinder world.

My assignment from the Western Folklife Center also required that I write an essay for the event program, which I used as an opportunity to flesh-out the least-accessible part of the poem, that being the intimate relationship with the sciences and story and narration.

I mean for both essay and poem to be read, and sung, aloud. The line breaks, spacings, and archaic punctuation are there to facilitate oral performance, not for style and certainly not to please the eye. You are welcome to supply your own melody.

Andy Wilkinson

Keynote 

 

(to order click the sidebar)

 

SEQUESTERED

 

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                           And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when
                                – Johnny Cash (“Folsom Prison Blues”)

We’ve essentially been sequestered to the house since returning from Elko, gray and rainy days—water leaking, standing, running around us, creek, once again, too high to cross in the Kubotas, nowhere for a pickup to go without tearing up the roads or getting stuck. But yesterday, the sun illuminated hillsides so green that you had to squint for a while before completely opening them. Glorious, indeed.

While inside, I’ve been trading emails with Andy Wilkinson as we work on publication of the keynote speech that he delivered at the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the entirety of which was his long poem “Storyline”. Perhaps it’s my hearing that tends to settle on a rhyme before the intended word, but I’ve almost always preferred poetry on the page, its presentation without distraction, words you can chew on before moving on. Listening Thursday morning in the Elko Convention Center auditorium, Andy was small and far away at the podium, the rhythm of his delivery was so musically mesmerizing, I knew I was missing words, yet caught up with his multi-faceted approach to ‘story’, the theme at Elko this year, as it related to time, science and us, but I managed to keep up with the keynote.

Downstairs from the offices of the Western Folklife Center, I ran into Andy at the Pioneer Saloon, the setting for his “Muriel Rukeyser and the Story-Time Continuum”, an essay that appeared in the Gathering’s program booklet that I hadn’t read yet. I asked Andy if would send me the text of “Storyline”—we even discussed having Dry Crik publish it.

The poem and the essay arrived Wednesday and I went to work, like a kid eager for sweet reward, on the layout, exchanging emails with Andy in Lubbock, Texas until yesterday about noon, sunshine everywhere green instead of gray. The banter of our communication was truly a dance as we discussed punctuation and space on the page, the poem and its presentation for four and a half days.

Our labor of love in the hands of cyberspace, I could stay inside no longer—grabbed the camera, got in the Kubota, and carefully traveled the pasture adjacent to the house, trying catch the freshness of the remaining spring-like day without getting stuck. Forecast for another week of rain begins Thursday. This is something!

 

From Benton, CA

 

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Heading into Bishop on our way home from Elko, Monday afternoon, the east side of the Great Western Divide shimmered with luxurious snow while it was storming on the other side, against the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills. By the time we made it home on Tuesday, the rain was finishing up, 1.22″ in the gauge as the creek was gaining momentum from the four-plus inches upstream, from its low-elevation headwaters less than 20 miles away. The foothills are saturated, every crease and crevice now collecting every drop of rain to send downstream. Roads are closed, creeks and streams flooding, dams failing.

Fast-forward to Thursday night, another warm, pineapple express will arrive here, forecast to bring another 1.5″ of rain, and who knows how much precipitation at the higher elevations that may also reduce our existing snowpack. This is not a part of our historic 4-year drought; the pendulum has swung to the other extreme.

“Story” was the story, the theme at Elko this year, kicked off by Andy Wilkinson’s spellbinding, poetic keynote address last Thursday morning entitled “Storyline”. With offerings more diverse than ever before, audio, video and all forms of visual art blended well with the poetry and music. I’ve maintained for years that the keynote address sets the tone for the Gathering, but never more true than this year. Currently sequestered inside with current weather conditions and the near-term wet forecast, Dry Crik Press is working with Andy Wilkinson to reprint “Storyline” in chapbook form.

Meanwhile back at the ranch it’s a warm 72 degrees as we batten down the hatches in preparation for Thursday.