#329 Backstory of the Poem: Stephen Page’s “I Was a Soldier”:
Preview: Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form? I had been administrating/managing an eco-ranch/farm for several months, and working in and around fields of grass (which were free-grazed by cattle, sheep, horses, and chickens), fallow fields, fields kept free to grow wild, wood patches, ponds, streams, swamps, and a large salty river that bordered the land—all filled with indigenous flora and fauna—which, as a poet, gave me plenty to be inspired about. This poem came to me and spilled out on paper through a pen in one complete draft during a day I had been working with the people—the employees, neighbors, and business partners—most all of who had different ethical values than people I had grown up around. These new people were horse thieves, cattle rustlers, malingerers, liars, contract manipulators, and behaved in manners that were less than honest. I had to learn very quickly the art of negotiation (arguing intelligently and fearlessly), and to supervise without appearing to micromanage or look like I was spying (unless it was over one of the bad guys), which sometimes made me feel guilty (for being a hard-a**), even though I was legally and morally in the right. This poem metaphorically reveals how I felt I (or better worded, how the main fictional character in the book felt) had behaved those first few months keeping the ranch profitable, free of bad guys, and eco-friendly. The poem figuratively reflects a fictional character influencing the unethicals to act honestly, treat the animals mercifully—the old way of ranching was very cruel to animals, and keep the ranch/farm part wildlife refuge, part indigenous flora reserve, and free of harmful pesticides and herbicides.
*read the rest of the interview here: http://chrisricecooper.com/329-backstory-of-the-poem-stephen-pages-i-was-a-soldier/
When Stephen Page is not writing, reading, spending time with his spouse, communing with nature, or walking his dog, he is either accidentally on purpose losing his cell phone or making noise with his electric bass. He is part Apache, part Shawnee, part Mexican, part English, part Scottish, and part Irish. He wanders off a lot during social gatherings, showing up hours later at home.
CHRISTAL ANN RICE COOPER is a newspaper writer, feature stories writer, poet, fiction writer, photographer, and painter. She has a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and completed all of her poetry and fiction workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She, her husband Wayne, sons Nicholas and Caleb, cats Nation and Alaska reside in the St. Louis area.
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