Candy Moulton: Reading the West 7-4-11
I cannot begin to call myself a poetry critic, therefore I cannot really review “Married Into It,” a collection of poems written by Wyoming rancher Patricia Frolander. But I can say that reading these poems is a journey into the heart of a woman who left the city to be rebirthed on the land. “She’ll never last” the neighbors clucked, “Too much city.”
It wasn’t easy. Certainly not at that first branding when she wanted to watch the men rope and ride, rather than peel potatoes in the kitchen. Then she intended to eat with the men, only to learn the women ate later.
It wasn’t easy to help a heifer birth a first calf, or watch a good horse die. It wasn’t easy to pound fence posts, or swath hay in high temperatures, or feel her way through a blizzard to a doctor who could cure a sick child.
But she did it. She raised the kids, butchered the chickens, rounded cattle out of thick brush and trees.
Pat Frolander wasn’t a rancher when she and husband Dick moved to his family’s homesteaded land. Heck, she wasn’t a poet then, either. But the land got into her soul, and comes out through her writing voice.
Patricia Frolander tries to balance family, ranching and writing, and has a passion for each of them. In 1985 she and her husband, Robert, purchased the ranch his great-grandfather homesteaded in 1885, in the Black Hills of Wyoming. Their family includes three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, all of whom live close to the ranch. You may find her on a tractor or horse, but at this stage of her life she prefers the padded office chair at her writing desk.
Patricia’s first book, “Grassland Genealogy,” was published in 2009. Her poetry has been widely published in numerous anthologies and included in American Life in Poetry (Column 275) by Ted Kooser, former U.S. Poet Laureate. She was the recipient of the 2011 Neltje Blanchan Award through the Wyoming Arts Council; winner of the 17th Annual National Senior Poets Laureate Competition sponsored by Amy Kitchner’s Angels Without Wings Foundation (2009); Guest Poet at the Matthews Opera House feature, Stars Shine 2008; Featured Poet at the 2007 Alzada Cowboy Poetry, Music and Art Show; and has been featured in journals, magazines and newspapers.
She is to be commended for “Married Into It,” and again readers should be grateful to publisher Nancy Curtis of High Plains Press who passionately believes we all need some poetry in our lives.
This is a gracefully written, beautifully published book.