Fraser: Having lived fully, poet shares what he’s seen
November 26, 2008
On the first day of English class, Professor Green asked his students why they were there.
Some, affirming with their hands raised, came to the school to be close to family, to party, to be closer to a fiancee.
After a list of reasons, all of the hands had been raised except one and the teacher threw out one more guess. When he asked how many of the students came for the simple joy of learning, Alvin Siekert finally raised his hand.
From Pebble Beach, Calif. to Ogden, Utah, Siekert has seen America as a worker. He’s been a camp cook, maintenance man, caretaker, and a life-long student (including studies with a few noteworthy chefs). He’s had 11 years of college and hasn’t found a reason to graduate yet, he said chuckling. “I guess I’m still asking “why,” like a 2-year old. I just keep going.”
He started coming to the Fraser Valley in 2003 and found a home here, mostly because the people.
“I recognize the quality of people here. The community probably wouldn’t describe itself as well-knit, but when the chips are down,” he said, they pull together. “Strong climates build good character or reveal it.”
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Poetry conveys a multitude of ideas and meanings. For Siekert the words are an instrument that celebrates life, and the joys and sorrows it brings. Through poetry, he pours out his heart and soul.
“I’d rather be the instrument of attainment or opportunity,” he said. “I’m a different crayon in the box.”
He suspects he has been writing about “things of substance” since grade school, but it wasn’t until 2001 that he felt the work was worthy to share.
“You have to own the words you write,” he said.
He wrote the poem “Moki Sunscreen” when he was 59. It was about a swimming party at Lake Powell.
When he shared the poem, everyone, he said, wanted a copy.
So he started writing more. Some poems didn’t have the value he was looking for, but he estimates he has about 30 poems that have made his personal cut.
“I get a lot of sand when I’m digging for gold,” he said. “I want to have an epochal meaning.”
His poems encompass a wide variety of universal themes ” romance, spiritualism, reflection. His words capture the raw emotions and feelings from what he has seen in life.
He likes to write about people’s conditions, “their mind or heart set, and the ramifications of those elements,” he said. His favorite piece is called “Who Makes Angels Cry,” about love and regret, “and not regret of love or for love, but an opportunity passed.”
“Tragedy inspires me, and the yin and yang of life,” he said, “the real agonies of life, the cause and effect of relationships, the tributary of lifeblood that connects all mankind.”
As his life study continues, he hopes to open his eyes more, dreaming of a world that can pass over nationalities and bridge age groups. He believes listeners, too, will be encouraged to open their eyes ” that they will look at his body of work and be able to relate to some degree.
“I’ve tried to reach into my soul,” he said, “in an effort to be supremely revealing.”
Siekert has personally chosen two “dear friends” to accompany his recital with music. Ali Grayson was the first person Siekert met when he came to the area, and Siekert said he was deeply taken by Franklin Brown and his family values and generosity.
The poet, like the former wrangler that seems so familiar in one of his favorite poems by another writer (which he’ll read at the event), “Every trail a man rides down is changed forever by his passing.”