portrait by Honor Woodard

Writing

I first saw my writing in print when The Totem of Spring 1971 (published by the School District of Omaha, Nebraska) included five of my poems. I pursued creative writing in college and on April 4, 1975 I received a letter from The Alice M. Edwards Memorial Creative Writing Award Committee which, in part, read, “We hope that you will continue to write, not only because we believe that creative writing is a worthwhile end in itself, but also because we believe that by sharing your perceptions you will be enriching the human community.” I framed that letter because of those words and because one of the signers was J B Wallace, the man who had taught me so much about writing. Jon wrote, “To Bruce– A friend & poet whose work I admire. May he soon arrive where he should be: in print,” inside my copy of his Looking For Home. That inscription seemed prescient when on the first page of the Spring 1984 issue of Studio One my “This Is The Poem” appeared. The College of St. Benedict invited me to read the poem at an event celebrating the publication of the journal. So I went, wearing my Baja “poet shirt” hoodie, and read my poem.

So there’s one way of telling a story of how I came to think of myself as a poet. There were other publications of my writing and other public readings. Then in 1986 I wrote a long piece entitled “Housebook.” It contained traces of the very first piece I wrote in high school, of the poem that won The Alice M. Edwards Memorial Creative Writing Award in college, of anything that I had written that still felt alive to me. For about a year I sought a publisher and it was accepted for publication by a journal in the fall 1987. However, the journal ceased publication before “Housebook” could appear. It was at this point I began to consider that if I was ever to see something like “Housebook” in print, I might have to do it myself. But twenty years passed before I put together Running With The Sun, which opens with “Here In My Eyes” (a later version of “Housebook”).