Poet’s Spotlight: Westward Expansion, The Discovery of Medford

WESTWARD EXPANSION: The Discovery of Medford

Dee Chadwell

“Go west, young man,” Horace Greeley

declared, and a hundred years later

we did.

From six miles up we watched
as the patchwork quilt of the plains
rolled past beneath us and wrinkled
into ridge after ridge of mountains.
We changed planes in San Francisco
and veered north. There we found
clouds– beneath us and as far into
our future as we could see, nothing but
clouds, charcoal gray, massed, and rolling.
We held hands, hoping our way across
an invisible boundary into our new home.

And the descent– a hole opened in
the blanket of cloud– rose-tinted and peach-edged
from the rays of the setting sun
that blessed our plane
as it slipped down into this hallowed valley
where no wind would howl,
where all things growing bloom,
and where our destiny gently
planted us.

Medford, My Home

Carol Brockfield

Medford was a railroad town, they say,
and I have read it’s true.
I hear the whistle blowing in the night
when the train comes through.

I hear the whistle blowing in the night,
a melancholy blue,
and think of going with it to the north–
line’s end will do.

I think of going with it to the north–
it seems to go one way of late,
a one-way train. And even worse,
it carries only freight.

It’s a one-way train, and i would go
if only I could ride in big box cars like

I think this poem is over, now. It’s clear
that Klamath Falls is where
I should have gone house-hunting years ago.
Instead I’m stuck here in this bungalow

in Medford.

Poets Write About Medford

“The pretentious coffee shops of New York City have nothing on Medford when it comes to poetry,.” This is a quote from an article in Medford’s Mail Tribune on Sunday, April 28, following the reading of poems about Medford at the Medford Library on Saturday afternoon. Seventeen OPA poets from around the state contributed poems to an anthology made available at the reading. The event was organized by OPA Board Member Carol Brockfield at the suggestion made by former Oregon Poet Laureate Lawson Fusao Inada at the OPA Fall Conference in Medford last October. The book was published by Brockfield aka Oakleaf Press.

Lawson Inada is always a strong drawing card. On Saturday he demonstrated his unquenchable enthusiasm for bringing poetry to the people and making Medford shine.”This book is the first of its kind,” he said. “It should be checked out by newcomers to the Rogue Valley, as well as by veteran residents.”

Poems by three poets were quoted in the article. “Pass by Slow,” a poem by OPA’s Acting President Tiel Ansari told of driving through the mountains from Portland to Medford. Dee Chadwell, the spokesperson for the group currently steering OPA’s Rogue Valley Chapter, wrote “Westward Expansion,” about her arrival in Medford by air many years ago. Carol Brockfield wrote of Medford’s beginnings as a railroad town in “Medford, My Home.”

Two listeners in the audience offered ultimately satisfying responses. Said one, “I came to hear a friend who was reading, but it was so enjoyable that I stayed the whole time.” The other remarked that she had never tried to write a poem because she assumed that “lofty” language was required. “These poems weren’t at all ‘lofty,'” she said, implying that maybe she would join in and try her hand.

–Carol Brockfield

Medford Tribune link: Poems About Medford Bring Forth Good Vibes

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