Book Review | “Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song”

Her TexasBy LEAH COOPER

Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song” may be the exception that proves the rule that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The book jacket is stunning, using blooming prickly pear cactus and barbed wire framed between sky blue and earth red to evoke classic images we all have of Texas. Inside, the book delivers exactly what the cover proclaims – a collection of stories, images, poems and songs by Texas women writers, artists and thinkers. One of the contributing editors of this anthology is Rachel Crawford, who will be speaking at a wine and cheese reception at Jefferson Carnegie Library at 6:00 pm on Monday, August 6.

There is something to satisfy everyone in “Her Texas” – creative nonfiction, songs and their backstories, poetry, fiction, photographs and, as lagniappe, contributions from each of the editors. Guida Jackson’s “The Man at the End of the Hall” uses her encounters with a Scottish widower in the nursing home they share to describe what fascinates her about Texas. I did not know the Amarillo Mountains lie beneath the Alibates National Monument, nor had I thought about Palo Duro Canyon as a “good metaphor for women: so many levels gouged out in the earth’s heart, deep and mysterious, changing color with shifts of sunlight and moonglow.”

Perhaps because of the heat, these words from “Destiny,” by Karla K. Morton, the 2010 Texas Poet Laureate, jumped out at me: “Late August in Texas, Fall is a Myth. Yet we wait for him…worried we won’t remember what he looks like…believing he will return.” Her poetry also shines through her photographs, including the long legs showing off “My New Boots” and the old tractor by the rusted Quonset hut in “Retirement.” The “Quiet Miracles” photographs of Ysabel de la Rosa include floral close-ups that bring to mind paintings of Georgia O’Keefe’s and a summer garden scene evocative of Claude Monet.

Rachel Crawford’s story “First Names” tells of Bonnie, who returned to her home town and is now working as a waitress in a Texas diner. She has come to accept the facial scars left by a car crash, thanks in part to the words of her grandmother, who had lost two fingers to a snakebite. “You’d be surprised how quickly you get used to things when you have to.” I am looking forward to hearing more from Rachel next Monday. Hope to see you at Jefferson Carnegie Library.

 

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