Montana Poet Laureate for 2017-2019
Lowell Jaeger is a nationally recognized poet who for the past 30 years in Montana has delighted diverse audiences with readings, lectures, discussions, radio shows and poetry workshops. During this time he has also served on an array of arts and humanities initiatives from Montana School Districts, Glacier Institute, Elderhostel, Montana Arts Council, Humanities Montana, American Library Association and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.
(The following is excerpted from Lowell’s 2015 nomination by Connie Hitchcock) Lowell is certainly a “citizen poet of exceptional talent and accomplishment.” He has authored six books of poems, his work has been published over 300 times in a variety of national journals, he serves as editor of Many Voices Press and he gives tirelessly of his time to a wide range of community organizations. Lowell has been an educator for more than 30 years at Flathead Valley Community College.
Lowell brings to the world a unique inquisitiveness that he chooses to share through his poetry…He demonstrates the value of critical thinking, of exploration, of respecting diversity, and of speaking one’s own truth.
I'm driving the long way home.
Meandering along a backroad meadow
where I've stalled to breathe
and watch the horses play.
Let their blood and flesh, grazing
knee-deep in fireworks of wildflowers,
Why do I say "play"?
Horses I've known up close
shudder and twitch with nervous alert.
fenced to boredom, plagued
with flies, thistles, and thirst.
And yet they do play.
They step toward me
shyly, as if to welcome me.
As if to ask what news I might bring.
And I answer by stroking their necks.
Resting a hand in the softness
just above the nostrils.
Where they inhale my gratitude.
And graciously stand with me.
As if to confirm the world's possibilities.
Foremost of which, despite our separate hardships,
is the goodness of this day.
-published in "Miamar Poetry Journal"
Soaking in the hot-tub, almost noon
(having risen leisurely), sipping rich coffee
. . . and talking about raising chickens
come spring. Good for the hens,
to graze for bugs and seeds in our meadow.
All those chicken droppings, good
for the soil. Eggs enough to share
with neighbors. Good to be
natural, wholesome, basic.
We could construct a hen house
on wheels, secure it in the garage at night,
every morning pull it with the riding mower
to grounds nearby our windows -
to keep an eye out for marauding coyotes.
And weasels, and hawks, and eagles.
We could heat the garage in snow time
with a woodstove and cut cordwood
from woodlots up the mountainside.
But, she said, I wouldn't want to butcher them,
would you? A stinky mess, boiling a caldron
to dip the birds and strip 'em. And . . .
chopping off their heads, she added, . . . it's cruel.
That could be my job, I said. And shuddered.
Guess we could take tums getting up early,
I proposed. How early? she said.
We soaked more and finished our coffees.
Shop-Rite sells fryers for three or four bucks,
she said. How much are eggs? I asked.
Two-twenty a dozen, she said.
Dollar seventy-nine, on sale.
-published in "Concho River Review"