It’s our sad duty to announce that former OPA president, board member, and poet Pat Banta passed away in March of this year.
Patricia Banta was born on December 31, 1924 in Los Angeles, CA, the only child of Ernest G and Deloris (Éclair) Henry. She died March 25, 2016 in Roseburg.
She attended school at U.C.L.A where she received her teaching credential. She taught five and a half years in California before moving to Oregon in 1959. There she continued to teach until retiring in 1980.
Pat enjoyed poetry and her poems were widely published in numerous newspapers and literary magazines. She reviewed well known poets and their books for a variety of College Quarterlies.
OPA member Doreen Wiley writes:
REMEMBERING PATRICIA (GOW) BANTA
Pat Banta was active on the Oregon poetry scene in the mid-1960’s and 70’s when she and I worked on the OSPA board and served as presidents, as well as secretaries for the state’s poetry units. It was a time when the annual poetry banquets drew upward to a hundred guests at hotels like the old Congress in Portland—a time when poetry enjoyed a more populist voice in the nation. I have copies of a number of Pat’s poems, written during that golden age, when she was known as Pat Gow, later changing her name to Pat Banta.
Pat had a degree from the University of California and lived in Glide and Roseburg, Oregon, areas she loved and wrote about. Her poems appeared in Oregonian Verse, The Medford Mail Tribune, Driftwood, A Literary Magazine; Human Voice, and Quixote Magazine. She was a student of poetry and did work in poetry translation.
In reviewing some of Pat Banta’s poetry, I was intrigued by her poem, ANSWER TO A PASSING REMARK, a playful rebuke to William Stafford’s poem, PASSING REMARK.
In scenery I like flat country.
In life I don’t like much to happen.
In personalities I like mild colorless people.
And in colors I prefer gray and brown.
My wife, a vivid girl from the mountains,
says, “Then why did you choose me?”
Mildly I lower my brown eyes—
there are so many things admirable people do not understand.
The Rescued Year, 1966
Pat Banta’s response:
ANSWER TO A PASSING REMARK
He prefers dull colors
still he is far from gray. . .
more like deep purple I would say:
and though he likes flat lands
wherever he stands Himalayas loom.
A quiet life suits him best
yet, in his mind
things are happening all the time!
And while his thoughts to shadows
cling—thoughts cut through
like a laser beam.
(Note: Reflections on “Passing Remark” by William Stafford.)
Driftwood, a Literary Magazine, Autumn, 1973
The gentle irony with which Banta challenges Stafford’s poem hits the mark “like a laser beam,” leaving the reader buoyed by her wit. The poem is also prophetic, in that William Stafford was just into his rise as a national poet.
Pat Banta worked hard to promote poetry in our state. She remains a bright voice in Oregon’s long legacy of memorable poets.
–Doreen Gandy Wiley
Upper left: Ed Jacques, President; James Fleming, Audrey Barry, Treasurer; Robert Davies, Muriel Markham. Second row: Eloise Hamilton, Historian; Pat Gow (Banta), Vice President; Phyl Lesher. Front row: Marcella Caine, Betty Hall, Doreen Gandy (Wiley).