Today is Labor Day. I should be sitting in my back yard, reading a good book and enjoying a sunny day, but instead, I’m working. This is a day to commemorate factory workers, carpenters, firemen, policemen, miners, and others who work hard for their money and to serve us. I would like to talk about two people who are, you might say, self-employed.
Our state has two poets laureate, as do many others. Our governor appoints one of them, and this year’s candidate is Patricia Frolander. Pat and her husband Robert operate a ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming near Sundance. She has published two collections of poems: Grasslands Genealogy and Married into It. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. The poems in her second book were inspired by her forty-six years of experience working on a ranch. I met her years ago when I joined Wyoming Writers and WyoPoets and have always been impressed by her spunk and stamina.
The other poet laureate is selected by Amy Kitchener’s Angels without Wings Foundation, which holds a contest every year to choose a senior poet laureate for every state. Wyoming’s candidate for this year is Rose Hill of Sheridan. She’s in the running to become the national senior poet laureate, and the winner of this contest will be announced sometime this month.
I got to know Rose several years ago when I joined Range Writers, our local writing group, and she and I have traveled to many conferences and workshops together. She’s a remarkable lady, a grandmother in her eighties who does a multitude of tasks including caring for a grandchild not quite a year old, managing her son’s car radiator business, serving as her church’s historian, and singing in the choir. Besides Range Writers, she’s active in Wyoming Writers, WyoPoets, and a group of poets that meets once a month to write, share, and critique.
Rose hasn’t published a book of poems, but her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. Her poems center on family, nature, and interesting tidbits she reads in National Geographic and other magazines. She has also written a poem or two that have been set to music and sung by her church choir. She’s a go getter who doesn’t let age, height, or anything else stop her, and I applaud her for this.
I’m commemorating these women today because writing, unlike factory or construction work, doesn’t guarantee income, and it can be a challenge to balance a paying job or business, family, and other obligations with writing. Pat and Rose have managed to do this, and they write great poems. I can think of no better candidates for Wyoming’s poet laureate positions.
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver