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Texas Poets Find The Heart Of The State On The Road

For all the Houston versus Dallas bickering today, the two cities do have something in common. We drive. A lot. Last night at UT Dallas’ CentralTrak gallery space, three Texas poets defined the Lone Star State by the journeys it requires.

“Once you unfold a road map of Texas, your world is changed. Towns like Falfurrias, Carthage, and Madill suddenly become part of your life and once you see them, you can’t go back to not knowing them.” -- Karla Morton, When Texas No Longer Fits in the Glove Box

Karla Morton’s covered a lot of ground. The 2010 Texas poet laureate brings us souvenirs from our own giant home in her verse: creamy limestone in Comfort; mustang grapes in Granbury. She collected poems about place from students across Texas as she visited their schools and shared their work alongside her own in Hometown, Texas.

Morton is sharing Texas’ shadows and charms again, this time via photography. She collaborated with 2005 Texas poet laureate Alan Birkelbach, who wrote poems based on her photos for the book and exhibition No End of Vision: Texas As Seen by Two Laureates. The poets joined Diane Durant for the CentralTrak reading. Durant's trip from Cool, Texas to Cool, California to Cool, Iowa is spelled out in words and pictures at the gallery through tomorrow - the exhibit's called Between Here And Cool.

In a talk about travel, text and image, all three agreed: Being up for a journey is just part of being a Texan.

“You drive across Texas, you’re halfway to California. And so there’s something about the vastness of Texas, I think … we have to drive," Durant said.

And, for her, that makes it easier to pick up and drive across the country. (Or, she said, to go see friends in Houston.)

Lyndsay Knecht is assistant producer for Think.