Sunday, April 11, 2004

Kenneth Brewer - Logan, UT

Traveling north out of Salt Lake City, we are stunned by the remarkable landscape changes just an hour or so up I-15. We turn east and plunge into a part of the Wasatch range, and when we emerge on the highway to Logan, we are surrounded by deep green valleys, pastures, horses, cows, pretty farm houses. It's like the lushest part of Iowa, but at 5000 feet, and surrounded by snow capped mountains.

Logan itself, the home to Utah State University (and USU Press, this book's publisher!), is gorgeous. Neatly cared for houses spill up and down the ever-present valleys. Downtown is neat and closed up tight on a Sunday morning. Families travel wide white sidewalks on the way to one of several churches, the most stunning, the Logan Mormon Tabernacle.

Ken Brewer meets me the door and helps me negotiate a truce with Gus and Jasmine, a pair of lively Schnauzers who are interested in either tearing my fingers off or licking me to death. (Poets & Dogs chapter coming up next week, perhaps.)

Ken is a gentle and genial host and we have a long friendly chat in his comfortable living room. A westerner since the early 1960s, he delights in debunking for me some of the more romantic myths, including gunfighting and the "singing cowboy" phenonmenon. Ken's a realist and loves to show the places of his life in clear, unvarnished colors.

The current poet laureate of Utah, he's preparing to work on a large archiving project, meeting and videotaping scores of Utah poets. I understand the kind of planning that a journey like that takes, so I make a mental note to keep in touch with him with tips on recorders, etc.

Ken's wife has the yard blooming already in this early spring, so we go outside to shoot some photos. We talk about a shared pal, someone who taught us both, Ken 30 years ago and me almost 20. Since I'm going to see this pal in the coming month Ken enlists my help as a messenger and runs inside to get something to take along with me.

We shake hands and we're back on the road. We have 500 miles to go tonight, and as I leave Ken in his yard, the Cache Valley spreading out beneath him wide and green, I once again find myself wishing I was home (wherever that is) already.