James Reese is a poet who keeps American tradition alive with humor and insight. He’s born and bred, teaches in the Great Plains, and captures the every-day with eloquence. I love the stories of his in-laws, children, wife, and students. They’re people that make us feel great, especially now that our country’s family album is tattered for lack of compassion. It’s a true gift to capture the hearts of people, turn them to language, and honor their identities so they’ll last longer than the author. This is called “preserving the beloved,” and the dramatic monologue is Reese’s way. He’s taught many federal prisoners to work past barbed wire to receivecollege degrees. He’s a poetry keepsake. Grace Cavalieri
MY MOTHER-IN-LAW AND THE MANHUNT
NIOBRARA, Neb. -A police officer has been assaulted at the low-income housing
units while attempting to arrest a suspect on a warrant. The suspect was able to
disarm the police officer and point the handgun at the officer before leaving with
the gun on foot into the river bottom area along the Niobrara and Missouri rivers.
I’m driving my mother-in-law
to the eye doctor for laser treatment.
We talk about preceding presidential
elections. Gun control. Gleaning.
We oftentimes talk about serious
issues. We listen to each other.
She says, I read in the paper
that fella they’re after is 5-10,
150 pounds. He’s not that big
of a guy. I had a dream about him
last night. That he showed up at our place.
I told him, you can come in and sit down.
If you put that gun away, I’ll fix
you something to eat.
She’s a farmer’s wife born in the
Dirty Thirties, when desperate people
must have seemed almost common. We look
out at the dirt road before us, ruts
veering towards the ditch as we reach
the crest of a hill.
Since 2008 Reese has been one of six artists-in-residence throughout the country who are part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ interagency initiative with the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons.In 2012 Reese received a Distinguished Public Service Award in recognition of his exemplary dedication and contributions to the Education Department at the Yankton Federal Prison Camp. Jim Reese is an Associate Professor of English; Director of the Great Plains Writers’ Tour at Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota; and Editor-in-Chief of 4 PM Count, a Prison Anthology . He’s performed readings at venues throughout the country, including the Library of Congress and San Quentin Prison. His third book Really Happy was published by New York Quarterly Books in 2014. In 2015 Reese received an Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award.
Grace Cavalieri is founder and producer of “The Poet and the Poem“ on public radio, now from the Library of Congress. She celebrates 40 years on-air in 2017. She’s has 18 books and chapbooks published, the latest is WITH (Somondoco Press, 2016.) Cavalieri has had 26 plays produced on American stages. Her newest play is “ANNA NICOLE: BLONDE GLORY.” The play is inspired by Anna Nicole: Poems, published by GOSS183. Her poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s “Verse Daily” and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry.” She is the managing poetry editor for PoetsArtists.