By Robert Laurence

Book jacket of Rebecca Buchanan's collection "the red bear with extremely white teeth,"Rebecca Buchanan had what she calls an elusive dream: to be a reclusive poet in Winslow, Arkansas.

Dream fulfilled. For 20 years and more she has lived in Winslow, written poetry and lately directed Ozarks Folkways, the well-known museum, folk-arts school and tourist destination in the Boston Mountains.

She gets out some, though, to Fayetteville a couple of times a week. And I caught up with her walking the dogs in the town of Ozark. And — oh yes — she’ll be doing a poetry reading in London in the spring. The one in England.

Rebecca Buchanan will be the featured writer at the October meeting of the Ozarks Poets and Writers Collective, Tuesday, Oct. 28th, 7 p.m. at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street in Fayetteville.

There is no charge for the event, the public is invited, and words and refreshments are available for purchase at the bookstore.

The reading will be the North American debut of Buchanan’s collection the red bear with extremely white teeth, which will be available for purchase and an author’s signature that night.

The worldwide launch will occur at that reading next spring in London. London?

London! Buchanan and her partner, Arbor Buchanan, have children and grandchildren living there, and they’ve arranged for a series of readings from the new book in the U.K.

That’s a long way from Winslow, especially for a reclusive poet, but then there you are.

the red bear with extremely white teeth is a bit grim, punctuated by Buchanan’s wicked sense of humor. She admits to being fascinated by death and dying in general, and the hospice movement in particular.

The title poem, for instance, tells of a child, apparently cancer-stricken, slipping out of life, surrounded by his family, accompanied by the red bear of the title, and a swarm of purple bees “tucked/ neatly beneath his arms/ each snoring/ like a little boy fast asleep.”

“Next to the Last,” on the other hand, tells of the elderly rather than the young:

She dances naked
in a circle
around
him.
Her long flowing
blond hair
swings wildly
across her breasts.
This is the show
he has been waiting for.

As the poem unfolds, we learn that the 98 year old man has been pestering the 82-year-old woman for sex, night and day for weeks. Now she dances for him, but “Sex is the last thing on her mind./ And next to the last?/ Murder.”

Please join the Ozarks Poets and Writers Collective as we welcome Rebecca Buchanan to Nightbird’s lectern on the evening of October 28th, at 7:00. (That’s at the new, cozy Nightbird, one door to the south from the old one.)

Before and after her reading, the microphone will be open for members of the community to read their poetry, prose, memoir or non-fiction to a generally friendly and supportive audience. Four minutes, please.

And, as always, the OPWC does not censor, and the readings are often about adult subjects, and the language can be earthy. Please join us.

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