In 1959, Oregon asked Portland filmmaker and adman Homer Groening to orchestrate the statewide celebration of the centennial of statehood. One teenager who remembers being hired by Groening to hand out brochures for the celebration grew up to be the poet Barbara Drake. In the picture above, she is the first on the right.
In the picture below, she’s the one smack dab in the middle.
Barbara Drake’s most recent book of poetry, Driving One Hundred, was published in 2009 by Windfall Press. Other books of poetry include What We Say to Strangers, Love at the Egyptian Theatre, Life in a Gothic Novel, Bees in Wet Weather, and Small Favors. She is also the author of Writing Poetry, widely used as a college textbook, and Peace at Heart: an Oregon Country Life, a memoir, which was an Oregon Book Award finalist in 1999. Born in Kansas, she moved with her parents to Oregon as a small child and grew up in Coos Bay. She earned her B.A. and M.F.A. degrees from the University of Oregon, and subsequently lived in Michigan for sixteen years where she taught at Michigan State University before returning to Oregon to teach at Linfield College, from 1983 until her recent retirement. The author and her husband live on a small farm in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range.
From the bio of Drake on the Mountain Writers website.
Maybe Oregon artists are especially good at passing their gifts down to their children. Homer Groening’s son Matt followed him into show business, while Barbara Drake’s daughter Monica followed her into literature.
Barbara has another connection to Oregon film. She told me she loved animated films so much that once she took a class at Northwest Film Center so she could make one of her own. She shot her drawings in sequence, just as instructed, and took the film to be developed. Unfortunately she forgot to tell the lab to print each frame 12 times. When she got the film back the images flew past so fast no human eye could decipher them.
I suppose Barbara’s film is still there, waiting to be seen by super gifted people in the future who can see images that pass really, really fast. That was her only attempt at filmmaking, and she was philosophical about it. Maybe she turned it into a poem.