Texas writer Michael Baldwin hasn’t played jazz clarinet in years, but will touch on the subject Saturday with his instrument of choice: poetry.
Baldwin is the featured reader at the HOT Poets Society’s “Jazzy Poetry” meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Waco Hippodrome. The event also will feature Baylor professor Keith Sanford on percussion and Waco writer and musician Jen Evans.
The Benbrook-based writer will share poems that address jazz as subject as well as in style. Both jazz and poetry are loves, he said, although it took time for poetry to click for him. “In high school I hated poetry. It wasn’t taught well,” he said in a recent phone interview. “Later on, I spontaneously started writing some and in college I had a really good teacher.”
He went on to a career involving words, though one more involved in their containment and collection, as a librarian in Fort Worth, Plano, Montgomery County and Benbrook, where he retired 2014 after more than four decades in library administration and teaching government.
Libraries helped shape his “eclectic mind,” he said, and his writing is similarly wide-ranging, at least in subject. His books include “Scapes,” winner of the 2011 Eakin Poetry Book Award; “Counting Backward From Infinity,” a 2012 Morris Memorial Chapbook Award winner; the mystery “Murder Music;” a collection of science fiction short stories “Passing Strange;” a children’s book “Space Cat;” and his latest book, 2016’s “Lone Star Heart: Poems of a Life in Texas.”
“My joke is that I’m planning on writing a book in every possible genre,” he chuckled. “I’m working on a literary fiction novel now — that’s the slowest form of fiction there is.”
Poetry will be the writing flavor on Saturday and the past president of the Fort Worth Poetry Society says his travels across the state for readings and meetings with poetry groups have found poetry in good shape.
Still, there’s a need to encourage a younger generation to sample the field and try their own hand at expression beyond what they might encounter in the classroom, he said. “Poetry is such a wide-ranging subject that (young people) shouldn’t be exposed to just one aspect of it,” he said.