Award-winning poet to give reading in McCrory

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published October 24, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 24, 2013 at 9:26 a.m.
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— Greg Brownderville graduated from McCrory High School in 1995, and since then, he has graduated from college, worked in Missouri and currently works at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He received the Porter Prize in 2007 for poetry, an award presented to an Arkansas writer who has accomplished a substantial and impressive body of work that merits enhanced recognition, according to the prize’s website.

Brownderville gives credit for his success to his education at McCrory, and he is going back to his roots to share his knowledge with one of his mentors and his class.

“Rod Kidwell was my high school English teacher, and we became friends [throughout the years],” Brownderville said. “He had this idea, and he called me earlier this semester. I said I would love to come home and meet his students and read poetry for them.”

Brownderville will present a collection of his poetry at Sweet Tea and Poetry on Saturday.

He said Kidwell is a magical lecturer and a great “sayer” of poems.

“He is just a great, gifted teacher,” Brownderville said.

Kidwell’s wife, Dale, will help with the event on Saturday.

“[Brownderville] and my husband have remained close friends through the years,” she said. “He knew [Brownderville] was a gifted child, and during college, they kept in touch and developed this great friendship,” she said.

Brownderville has written and published three books of poetry, and Rod is mentioned in the forward of each of them.

“This is a successful student coming back to his mentor’s backyard to read poetry to his students now. That’s what’s really cool about it,” Dale said.

Brownderville said Rod was someone with whom he could always talk about poetry.

“He was important because he understood why I loved poetry,” Brownderville said. “He encouraged me in the path that I’m in now, and he encouraged me to pursue it.”

Brownderville teaches creative writing at SMU and still discusses poetry and books with Rod when he can, just like Brownderville did when he was in high school.

“He got me started reading stuff when I was 15, but without him bringing the stuff to my attention, I would have never read it,” Brownderville said.

He is excited about coming home to read his poetry and looks forward to making connections with the students who are in the same place he used to be.

“I’m really excited about it. I want to meet his students, and I love Woodruff County,” Brownderville said. “It was an honor to be asked to speak to them. It’s very flattering, and I jump at any chance I get to connect with people back home. It means a lot to me that they care about my work.”

Sweet Tea and Poetry will be held at the Kidwell home, 601 N. Wade St. in McCrory. More information is available by calling Dale at (870) 731-4226. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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