Poet shares stories of Texas
at Oct. 19 Snow Convocation
By Max Higbee
Oct. 26, 2017
EPHRAIM—Continuing its convocation series for the fall semester, Snow College hosted Utah’s former poet laureate David Lee last Thursday, Oct. 19 at the Eccles Center.
Lee read from his newest book titled “Bluebonnets, Firewheels and Brown-eyed Susans, or Poems New and Used from the Bandera Rag and Bone Shop.”
“It seems like there’s an unspoken tradition that every time I release a new book, Snow College is the first college to invite me to do a reading,” Lee told students. “I think of you guys as my lucky charm. If this reading goes well, I know that all of the rest on this reading tour will.”
The poems in his reading were story-driven and related tales of characters Lee knew while living in Texas. The characters had Southern sensibilities and even deeper Southern drawls.
The stories were saturated with Americana and felt as if they could as easily have come from a book of folk stories or tall tales as from a modern poet.
“This is a Texas book,” Lee said. “I’ve written many Utah books, but this is a Texas book.”
Lee grew up in Texas, but his family has deep Utah roots. He is a direct descendant of John D. Lee, the infamous Mormon pioneer known for his role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
After the massacre, the Lee family split in two branches. One branch stayed with the Mormon settlers in Utah, while the other branch left the LDS church to settle in Texas.
David Lee returned to Utah to teach poetry at Southern Utah University and has lived in the state with his family ever since. He was named the first poet laureate of the State of Utah in 1997 and served until 2002, when he received an Award of Commendation from the Utah House of Representatives.
Lee has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. For his poetry, he has won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and the Western States Book Award.
He is now retired, but organizes and teaches at the annual Cliff Notes Writing Conference in Boulder, Colo.