The Arkansas treasure Jo McDougall is returning to the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective, for which she’ll read at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville.

Jo McDougall

Jo McDougall

McDougall’s most recent publications include the poetry collections The Undiscovered Room (Tavern Books, 2016) and In the Home of the Famous Dead: Collected Poems (University of Arkansas Press, 2015) and the memoir Daddy’s Money (University of Arkansas Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Kenyon Review, Midwest Quarterly, New Letters, Toadsuck Review and others. She has received awards from the Porter Prize Literary Fund, the Academy of American Poets, and the DeWitt Wallace/Readers Digest fund as well as fellowships to the MacDowell Colony.

Her verse has been read a number of times on the long-running podcast The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She has been inducted into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame and recently was named honorary chancellor for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.

McDougall, a University of Arkansas alumna with an MFA from the Program in Creative Writing and Translation, lives with her husband, Charles, Zelda the dog and Spike the cat in Little Rock. She says she’s delighted to be coming home to Northwest Arkansas.

McDougall will be reading Nov. 28 from The Undiscovered Room, Daddy’s Money and new work from a poetry manuscript in progress, Stillness Falling Like Calamity.

The publisher’s page for the memoir notes: “Daddy’s Money recounts five generations of Delta rice farmers using family archives and oral histories to trace how the family made its way into the fabric of America, beginning with McDougall’s Belgian-immigrant grandfather, a pioneer rice farmer on the Arkansas Delta near DeWitt at the start of the 20th century.”

McDougall’s concise poetry is often narrative, the compelling storytelling reminiscent of her mentor the late Miller Williams but perhaps grittier. She told Writer’s Almanac, “I think a sense of place plays an important role in my poems. People’s stories tend to stay with me, and I admit to occasional eavesdropping. Memory plays a huge part in supplying me with subjects.”

This, the Collective’s last program of 2017, will feature as usual open mic opportunities, where audience members are invited to read their own work or that of others, with a timed 4-minute limit. The program is free, while donations are accepted. The Collective welcomes all ages but with this caution: Mature language and themes. Nightbird Books is at 205 W. Dickson St. The OPWC can be found online at ozarkwriters.wordpress.com.

We’ll see you again at Nightbird on Jan. 30, 2018.

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