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An enthusiasm for pig poetry

Litchfield Opera House to have reading of a book of poetry that was an idea of Bill Holm’s

May 7, 2011
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

The editor of a poetry book on pigs said the collection that was inspired by a late Minneota author are "poems you can eat."

The Litchfield Opera House is having a "Pig Gig" poetry reading at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 15. Several area authors will do readings from the book "Low Down and Coming On: A Feast of Delicious and Dangerous Poems About Pigs."

Joe Paddock, a poet who lived in the Marshall area back in the 1980s and now resides in Litchfield, said the impetus for the collection of poetry about pigs was the late Minneota author Bill Holm.

"I remember his enthusiasm about pigs back in the '70s," Paddock said. Paddock said the book, which is edited by James Lenfesty, poet and former editorialist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, is dedicated to Holm.

The book was published by Red Dragonfly Press last year and Micawber Books called it "the best poetry book of 2010," Paddock said.

"I found out in doing oral history is that people who work with pigs, like them," Paddock said.

Paddock remembers the time when it was pretty much a dream of Holm's to assemble such a book.

"He had a thousand good ideas, but this is something he held onto," Paddock said.

After Holm's death in 2009, Lenfesty picked up the idea, Paddock said.

"He did a marvelous job pulling together this book," Paddock said.

"Low Down and Coming On" features more than 130 poems on pigs from 103 poets. Some of the poets include five state poet laureates, such as Robert Bly, a Nobel Prize winner - Pablo Neruda, two U.S. poet laureates, such as Ted Kooser, as well as some from Holm and Paddock.

"I have two in it," Paddock said.

Paddock said his pig poetry includes a funny one about a man who didn't want to lose a pig and went as far as jumping in a well to rescue it. The other was about an incident that happened to him when he was 10 years old. He was wandering into a pigyard with his Red Ryder BB gun.

"I got cornered there," Paddock said.

Luckily, Paddock said, he found a crevice between the barn and the silo and climbed up a ladder away from the pigs.

As for Holm's poems on pigs, Paddock said one is humorous and another is sad. The sad one is about a pig with a broken back spinning around in circles on the highway.

"The book as a lot of range," Paddock said.



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