The Memory of Water — the final book by late SMU creative writing professor and past Poet Laureate of Texas Jack Myers — is a nominee for 2012 Pulitzer and Pushcart Prizes. The honors inspired a Portable Poetry Workshop celebration in Myers’ honor Nov. 29.
The free event on what would have been Myers’ 70th birthday was held at Paperbacks Plus in Lakewood and was sponsored by the nonprofit literary center The Writer’s Garret, which Myers helped create in 1994 with his wife, Thea Temple, and several others.
Pulitzer Prize winners for works published this year will be announced in April 2012 and honored at a luncheon in late May. Pushcart Prizes, which honor the best literary works published by small presses, also will be announced next spring.
“Jack’s work has always been a marvel,” says William Olsen, editor of the New Issues Poetry and Prose division at Western Michigan University, publisher of The Memory of Water. “His poems are exceptional for how they can look at hard losses with a special wisdom that allows for yearning and wonder.”
Myers served the English Department in SMU’s Dedman College for more than 30 years until his death in 2009. He wrote hundreds of highly praised poems and eight books about poetry, including The Longman Dictionary of Poetic Terms and The Portable Poetry Workshop. He also edited anthologies and 10 collections of poetry. He received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and was winner of the National Poetry Series in 1985.
After I am gone and the ache begins
to cease and the slow erosion I felt,
being older than you, invades you too,
you’ll come to see that an image of the desert
is the memory of water, like remembering.
When we were walking in beautiful Barcelona
and you said you thought the trees were gods
because they were rooted in earth
and flew in the air and magically made food
out of light and made the air we breathe.
— Jack Elliott Myers, “The Memory of Water”