April is National Poetry Month

The American Heritage Center has among its holdings a number of literary figures–authors, journalists, as well as poets.  With April’s celebration of poetry and poets, we thought it fitting to share with you some of the lyrical offerings to be found among our collections.

Harriet Kofalk papers, Box 3, Folder 1. American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Harriet Kofalk is one of the poets represented in the collections of the American Heritage Center. Kofalk lived in New Mexico and California and was active in the peace movement in both states.  She contributed peace and nature-themed poems to local publications and self-published several volumes of haiku.  Not a poet by profession, Kofalk was a historical researcher and also worked for RAND Corporation for many years.  Her other authorial interests included cookbooks–she compiled recipe books for apples, poultry (You’re in a Fowl Mood: Poultry Recipes), and even solar cooking.

From her 1987 book Rainbow: A Collection of Haiku, here are two examples of her work.

 

Wriggling between cars

the snake escapes again

across the hot road

And

Pollen in the web

spider and honeysuckle

both wanting insects

Peggy Simson Curry, Wyoming’s first Poet Laureate and on the rolls of the Wester Writers Hall of Fame, is also represented among the literary collections among the AHC’s holdings.  Born in Scotland, Curry emigrated to the U.S. as a young girl and settled with her parents in North Park, CO.  After her marriage, she and her husband moved to Casper where Peggy lived until the end of her life in 1987.

Here is the poem, Lupine Ridge, by Peggy Simpson Curry:

Long after we are gone,

Summer will stroke this ridge in blue;

The hawk still flies above the flowers,

Thinking, perhaps, the sky has fallen

And back and forth forever he may trace

His shadow on its azure face.

 

Long after we are gone,

Evening wind will languish here

Between the lupine and the sage

To die a little death upon the earth,

As though over the sundown prairies fell

A requiem from a bronze-tongued bell.

 

Long after we are gone,

This ridge will shape the night,

Lifting the wine-streaked west,

Shouldering the stars.  And always here

Lovers will walk under the summer skies

Through flowers the color of your eyes.

Though famous for her poetry, Curry was also an acclaimed novelist.  The American Heritage Center has several of her prose manuscripts and we’ve included the first page of her original manuscript for her book, The Oil Patch, a 1959 novel that depicts the life and tensions of a community out in the oil fields of 1936 Wyoming through the perspective of a young, newly married couple.

First page of Peggy Simson Curry's manuscript for her book, "The Oil Patch." Peggy Simson Curry papers, Box 1, Folder 1. American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The writer’s process is indeed fascinating!

–Rachael Dreyer, Reference Archivist

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