Santee Frazier is the next poet to share words with the DWC community at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday, February 5th. Santee will be reading from Dark Thirty, released by University of Arizona Press.
Through the miracle of the internet, Santee and I shared a few short exchanges based on random questions of my own design. In spite of the press of both of our busy lives, we had a few moments before our screens for the following:
Georgia Popoff: Because place is such an important element informing the poet, your roots in Oklahoma must be a significant aspect of your voice. So I would like to ask three questions about you from that perspective: First, What is the most common misconception you think people have of your home state?
Santee Frazier: Usually what people associate with Oklahoma is that the people are somehow less intelligent due to their prominent accent. People often associate Oklahoma (southern) hospitality as a simpleton small talk, which it is not.
GP: What would you say to someone who first noticed these two highway signs and were confused: "Correction Facility - Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers" and "Don't Drive into Smoke?"
SF: Only if the hitchhiker is a relative do you pick them up, which also depends if said relative owes you money, other than that wave and carry on. Smoke in CNY? It would most likely be fog so I would say drive on through. If in California, on a smoky day near Folsom prison, do not pick up the guy in the white D.O.C. jump suit with tears tattooed in his face. Unless of course the fire and smoke were all apart of the escape plan you hatched over a series of collect calls with your self-proclaimed "innocent" cousin, in which case you need no longer worry about driving.
GP: Thanks Santee...as for the road signs...I was referring specifically to those in Oklahoma. They fascinated me.
SF: I have never really seen these signs. It’s been 10 plus years since I spent any real time in Oklahoma. I have lived in New Mexico for more than half my life, and sometimes I feel more New Mexican than Oklahoman. Either way I wrote a response:
Oklahoma is known for becoming very dry in the summer time. The grass dies, and naturally, susceptible to fire. The fires spread fast and are almost uncontrollable and can be very dangerous for highway travelers, hence the signs. No doubt adding the do not pick up hitchhikers element of the sign is there because most of the Oklahoma state prisons are located in rural areas were the fires pop up in the summertime.
GP: What sound do you miss most since you have been living in the Northeast?
SF: The sound of sand splashing against a window.
GP: Other questions: Your blog is all about food. What was the first meal you ever made and how old were you?
SF: I was home alone one night and made this weird version of Hamburger Helper when I was about 10. I browned some ground beef, salt, pepper, cut some potatoes, and splattered a bunch of ketchup into the pan. I added a cup of water to make the sauce. I waited until the potatoes were soft, then I grubbed out in front of the TV and watched Married With Children.
GP: What is your favorite thing to order off of Simon's menu when you have dinner at China Road and how hot do you like your entrees?
SF: I tend to order a variety of dishes when at China Road (the prices are so reasonable). We order the fried dumplings to start. Then the Szechuan beef noodle soup, tea smoked duck, and Shanghai Veggies. I usually like the my dishes (as a former resident of New Mexico) very spicy. Simon usually brings out some of his spicy salsa for me to add to my dinner. Lately we have been ordering the Chicken Chindoo style. We usually like to spy on other tables to see what they order.
For more about Santee, please visit his home page. You can also follow his terrific foodie blog if you love to cook and dine. We hope you will join us at the DWC for Santee’s reading and to meet him yourselves.
Georgia Popoff is a poet with two published collections of poetry, a teaching artist, arts-in-education professional development specialist, editor of Comstock Review, Downtown Writer’s Center faculty member, and board member of the Association of Teaching Artists. Georgia is Poet-in-Residence in numerous school districts and also teaches adult writing workshops.