The gift of this original sketch to the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Collection was inspired by the William Stafford Centennial celebration hosted by Washburn University in March 2014 where “Remembering Mountain Men” was one of some 40 Stafford poems read at the gathering. The gift is dedicated to the memories of Harold Morris and William Stafford, two Kansas natives whose love for poetry abides in the works they left for us.
Bill Myers donated this drawing to the collection with the following description of The Poetry Reading:
“The Poetry Reading,” an original pen and ink sketch by Topeka native Harold Morris (b. 1935), depicts a group of men who are perhaps unaccustomed to hearing poetry as they listen to a reading of “Remembering Mountain Men” by Hutchinson native William Stafford (b.1914) at a gathering in Estes Park, Colorado in 2001. At the suggestion of the reader, each man has removed one shoe and sock to immerse that foot in a bucket of water drawn directly from Glacier Creek early that morning. The text of Stafford’s poem makes clear the intention of this act:
Remembering Mountain Men
I put my foot in cold water
and hold it there; early mornings
they had to wade through broken ice
to find the traps in the deep channel
with their hands, drag up the chains and
the drowned beaver. The slow current
of the life below tugs at me all day.
When I dream at night, they save a place for me,
no matter how small, somewhere by the fire.