Posted in Poetry, Reading

Poetry Reading at Malvern Books

Photo courtesy of Malvern Books
Photo courtesy of Malvern Books

Last week, I was fortunate enough to read some poetry to a great audience at Malvern Books in Austin, Texas. Malvern is a unique bookstore that, according to their website, “specializes in visionary literature and poetry from independent publishers, with a focus on lesser-known and
 emerging voices the world needs to hear.” They opened a little over a year ago and have quickly made a name for themselves in the Austin literary community with their distinctive selection of titles and the many events they host. My reading was part of Raw Paw’s Mind Maze series, and I was honored to share the podium with Tina Posner and Jack Brannon.

Malvern Books records all of their events, so you can see my full poetry reading on YouTube. The host’s very nice introduction of me begins at 2:20. If you choose to watch the video, you will hear me read a few haiku, as well as “August in Texas,” “Growing Up on the Oregon Trail,” and my award-winning poem “Balanced Rock, Big Bend National Park,” among others. The recording cuts out just before the end of the last poem I read, which is a favorite of mine by Billy Collins. Click here to read the last few lines of “On Turning Ten.”

Please don’t stop with my video though. Take time to listen to the other readers as well. Tina Posner’s poem about her mother-in-law’s death has stuck with me since I heard it, and Jack Brannon’s reading of his own father-themed poetry paired with poems by Li-Young Lee was beautiful. All of our videos can be found on Malvern’s blog. Ours is the second event featured in this post.

I’m very grateful to Malvern Books and Raw Paw for inviting me to be a part of their event. It’s a wonderful bookstore and a wonderful place to hear poetry, so if you’re in Austin, stop by and see them. (And buy a book.)

Posted in Poetry, Writing

Growing Up on the Oregon Trail

This week, I’d like to share one of my poems. “Growing Up on the Oregon Trail” was first published last year in [Insert Coin Here], a video-game-themed anthology by Kind of a Hurricane Press.





Growing Up on the Oregon Trail

I remember the terrible day
when my cousin died of dysentery.
I’d gone hunting, trying to kill enough deer
to feed our family of eight,
but had wasted most of our ammo instead,
thanks to a sticky spacebar.

I think I was swindled in Independence
by the cheery shopkeeper who sold me the team of oxen
that perished fording the swollen river,
halfway to Chimney Rock.
But I was only a child, not properly schooled
in the ways of haggling.

History repeated itself in that computer lab
as over and over again I set out for Oregon,
never successfully reaching my destination,
always leaving a trail of broken hearts
and broken axles
in my wake.

But I still learned valuable lessons, like
it doesn’t matter how many bison you shoot
if you can only carry a hundred pounds of meat
back to the wagon.
And you’re not allowed to name
one of your family members after your dog
if you’re going to cry when he dies.

But the most eye-opening moment occurred
the day I logged in to my doomed expedition
after one of the “big kids” had used the computer
and I came upon a tombstone that read,
“Damn. I died a virgin.”

Pioneer life was no picnic—
harsh landscapes, brutal conditions.
You could lose your innocence out there,
and some of your best friends
to snakebite.


© Carie Juettner, 2012
All rights reserved.



It brings me great joy to learn that Salem, Oregon, is hosting Oregon Trail Live this Saturday! I wish I could be there. Somebody please shoot a bison for me.