The poems in The Cowtown Circle are diverse and wide-ranging, dealing with nature, topical issues, and the imprisonment of captured WWII German soldiers in Hearne, Texas, to a section of María Poems (a series devoted to Dave’s wife, begun in 1976) and to sections on grandchildren and a visit to New York City, on music (classical, jazz, and Indian), and on U.S. Presidents. The title of the book refers to a group of modernist artists active in Ft. Worth, Texas (a city known as "cowtown" for its stockyards), during the Second World War.
Dave says he was influenced by many things during the writing of the book. “Whatever moved me at the time, my wife frequently, but also books that I had read—one entitled Lone Star Stalag—people I knew or had known, scenes that I saw, artwork that I came across, and music I heard…The title poem on artists in the city where I was born demonstrates the source for writing in one’s own environment, and the poems on my wife illustrate how the nearest source can be at home.”
Dave Oliphant taught and/or edited a scholarly journal at the University of Texas at Austin from 1976 to 2006. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, he won the TIL's 2011 Soeurette Diehl Fraser book translation award for his version of Chilean poet Nicanor Parra's Discursos de sobremesa (as After-Dinner Declarations). A second edition of his translation of a collection of poems by Chilean Enrique Lihn, entitled Figures of Speech, is forthcoming in 2015 from Host Publications. His series of poems entitled Memories of Texas Towns & Cities (begun in 1975 and completed in 2000) includes a 140-page poem on Austin that Michael King reported in The Texas Observer "takes its place. . . as a long poem in a modernist mode which makes an enduring contribution to the literature of its place, time, and country. And that's a great deal for any city to be proud of."
The Cowtown Circle
by Dave Oliphant