Poet of the Week: Karla K. Morton

Karla K. Morton, the 2010 Texas Poet Laureate, is a celebrated poet, author and speaker. A Betsy Colquitt Award Winner, a two-time Indie National Book Award Winner, a North Texas Book Festival Awards Finalist and a member of the esteemed Texas Institute of Letters, she has been widely published in literary journals and is the author of six books of poetry: Wee Cowrin’ Timorous Beastie (a 17th Century Scottish epic book/CD created in collaboration with award-winning composer Howard Baer); Becoming Superman (Rogers Publishing/Wheeler Press), Redefining Beauty, a journey through cancer diagnosis, chemo, radiation and recovery (Dos Gatos Press); Stirring Goldfish, a Sufi poetry book, Names We’ve Never Known (Texas Review Press) and Karla K. Morton: New and Selected Poems  (TCU Press). Her latest book, No End of Vision: Texas as Seen by Two Laureates features Ms. Morton’s black and white photography and poetry written by 2005 Texas Poet Laureate Alan Birkelbach and inspired by her photos. Described as “one of the most adventurous voices in American poetry,”  she has been featured on Good Morning Texas, NPR, ABC News, CBS News and in countless newspapers, blogs and magazines. She has also been featured on The Art of Living Gallery, a national program on Veria TV, and presents at conventions, conferences, bookstores, universities, festivals and schools. An avid photographer, Morton has also had several showings of her black and white artwork, and she loves to mix poetry with other art forms. Morton was born in Fort Worth, holds a Journalism degree from Texas A&M University and currently resides in Denton, Texas, with her children and husband. For more information, please visit or
Poet on Poetry's Questions for Karla Morton

1. What inspires you as a poet?

There are so many things that inspire me -- nature, especially --
I have a great curiosity for everything, and could spend hours just
sitting beside a creek.

But it's also people.  I believe as poets, as writers, we are all storytellers
in our own way (even if they're just tiny stories!),  and I keep this little
pocket-size composition book with me at all times to jot down things that
strike me during the day. 

It could be the fog lifting from the morning grass, or something somebody said,
or a thought, or a random fact.  They all go into this rock-tumbler
brain of mine and come out as poetry.

2. What advice do you have for other poets?

Sit down and write. 

Oh, it's just so easy to say, yes I'll get to it,
but what are you waiting for?

Write every day, you will only get better! 

3. What prompted you to start writing poetry?

From my earliest memories, it was poetry that filled a need inside me.
I remember hearing Green Eggs and Ham, and thought, oh, what magic !!!

There are things I can say in poetry that I struggle with verbally;
it's a way to reach down and touch the marrow of your soul.
4. Where do you see yourself going in the future as a poet?

Well, I put over 29,000 miles on my truck just for poetry this past year,
and I honestly believe that I am just getting warmed up!

I see the decline of Arts funding across the Texas and the rest of the US
as a sign that I need to be out there, spreading poetry as much as I can,
but the hardest thing about that is my own physical funding.

I long for the old days when artists had Patrons -- people who could support
them while they did their thing.  It's much more complicated today, and
almost impossible to make a living at poetry -- but I'm still trying!

But I would love to take the idea of Little Town, Texas that I started here
out to the rest of the US -- getting adults and kids inspired by their own communities.
I firmly believe that poetry is every man's art; it belongs to every man.

Walt Whitman wrote:  "I hear America Singing
                                  each singing what belongs to him or her
                                  and to none else"

Everyone has poetry inside of them.  Everyone.
The world would be an amazing place if everyone read or wrote
just one poem each day of their lives. 

Poetry connects us all -- it is the link between man and God.

5. What are your favorite poetry journals?

Oooh, good question!
Texas alone is full of incredible journals,
such as descant, Borderlands, Concho River Review,
Southwestern American Lit, REAL,  and so many more!
I also love others around the country like  Southern Poetry Review.
and so many more!

I read as many other works as I can.
I think I learn something from every single poet I read.

6. What was the best thing about serving as Texas Poet Laureate over
 the last year?
Well, this might sound silly, but it was the travel to places I've always wanted
to see like Big Bend and Port Aransas, and the thicket and the plains.
Texas is so rich in culture and  history, and people welcome me with open
And, I'm happy to report that TCU Press is publishing a book from this journey
that has kids' poetry and artwork from all over the state, as well as mine.

I am so inspired by the people of Texas.  They are full of nobility
and rich with sense of place.  Add that with the breathtaking scenery,
and I find I'm often bursting into tears and the beauty of it all.

Each time I get to speak and read somewhere, I think I am the one who is
getting so much out of it; I am so blessed.
Becoming Texas Poet Laureate is truly a dream come true, and I love
to share it with all of our great State!

Karla Morton's Poetry

These three poems are from Names We've Never Known  (Texas Review Press);


Mom taught me better than this...
yet, half an hour spent kissing
your lips, and I'm careless and dazed, easy
prey for fast strikes

from dark corners and back seats.
Later, I'll think of you, as
I reach down into the woodpile, gloveless;
my heart, exposed;

defenseless in open hands.


Summer at Texoma     

                 - for the Cathros

The clouds call my name; the wind
rolls through my hair
Cicadas sing to my soul as if my body
wasn't there.

The lake ripples with life.  She's cool
as iced gin.
She opens up wide and lets one more life in.

Summer at Texoma.
True-hearted friends.
Words and wine flowing.
Life, lived well,
never ends.



Every night after supper, you stroll
these drought-laden fields, pipe in one hand,

walking stick in the other; making love
to a land as cracked and pieced as thick,

broken glass; only to return smiling
to your bride -- barren for years...looking

at me like a crop of sweet corn -- flush with
ripe husks, like sons, too many to name.

© Karla K. Morton

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