Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wizardry Writing

I am not a poet and I know it, which aside from the old “Roses are red, violets are blue” formula, is about as far as I can go in things poetical. In freshman English at Angelo State University, I got tripped up on iambic pentameter and haven’t figured it out yet.

But you don’t have to be a poet to enjoy good poetry. You don’t even have to know what iambic pentameter is to spot the difference between pleasing rhyme and doggerel.

When longtime Austinite Mariann Wizard asked if I would be interested in reviewing her autobiography in poems, “Sixty,” I hesitated. My reviews mostly concentrate on non-fiction Texana, I told her. Still, she offered to send a copy for me to take a look at and I agreed. (Interestingly enough, she was an old friend of cartoonist-historian Jack Jackson, discussed in the previous entry in this blog.)

One reason I assented was that I knew something of her story. A bright Fort Worth girl, she came to the University of Texas in the 1960s and soon got swept up in what came to be called “the Movement.”

Actually, Wizard did most of the sweeping. She was one of the founders of the iconoclastic underground newspaper called The Rag in 1966 (merely possessing the first issue got me unceremoniously thrown off campus at Sidney B. Lanier High School) and was married to another figure in Austin’s nascent civil rights and anti-war movement, George Vizard.

In 1967, Vizard was murdered while working as a clerk in a convenience store in then North Austin. Some years later, when police arrested a suspect in her husband’s death, I was involved in the newspaper coverage. Later still, I reviewed a true crime book written about the case.

One of the 60 poems in this collection, written a year after his slaying, deals with Vizard. Others range from a topic familiar to all Austinites – traffic congestion – to the seasons. A few of the poems are as steamy as a late May afternoon after a thunderstorm. All of them, from traditional verse to haiku, invite reading and reflection.

In addition to Wizard’s wizardry words, her longtime friend Scout Stormcloud took the color images that add to the book’s visual appeal.

Published by Lulu.com, an on-line publisher, the 100-page book is available for $39.95 or at $15.95 for a digital download. For more details, contact Wizard at awizard@awizardslife.com


The Rag said...

We have in common being punished for reading the Rag in high school. Ah, fond memories.

Wizard's book is fantastic. I've read it a couple of times and seem to get a little more from her poetry with each reading.

Tim said...


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