By Dr. Marvin G. Kimbrough, Professor Emerita
Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, Texas
Author and Award-Winning Poet
"I will honor them with word and tale and rhyme,"
writes Barbara Youngblood Carr, when referring to her ancestors.
Honoring them is exactly what she does in the eight books of
her Ancestor Series. Her latest book, Windsongs and Moon Spirits,
contains four chapters: Travels with Loved Ones: Journeys Following
Windsongs, Moon Spirits and Dreams of Dancing Waters; Understanding
Messages from the Great Spirit and Our Ancestors; More Psalms
of the South: Quirky Ditties and Spirited moon Madness and finally
Blessed by Windsongs and Moon Spirits: Visiting Sacred Grounds
Where Ancestors Dwell plus well-written Author's Remarks and
an impressive Biography.
Although the theme of ancestors runs through the book, other
topics such as death, travels throughout the South and Southwest
(from small towns in Texas to large cities in Oklahoma and New
Mexico), military expeditions, stories and tales of forebears
and descendants, humorous tales and poems emerge with frequency.
Part of the book is couched in the travels of the author and
daughter, Kathleen. The reader travels vicariously with them,
enjoys the local color and scenery, learns history, listens to
poetry, learns a little Cherokee and feels refreshed and enlightened
as different sites are visited.
Carr often writes about the folklore and legends connected to
a particular locale, be they the Marfa Lights near Marfa, Texas,
the sunset at Lake Travis at the Oasis in Austin or the Roswell
Alien Museum in New Mexico or maybe the separation of Christians
and non-Christians in the country cemetery between Round Top
and Winedale, Texas. The reader is often reminded through Carr's
poetry of national sites in the United States of America, such
as the Capulin Volcano in New Mexico and the Sitting Bull Canyon
near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Carr writes passionately about Native American tribes and their
place in American history, be it those who served in the Civil
war or in the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon. She writes lines or
quotations in Cherokee, including citations from Red Cloud, Chief
Joseph and Luther Standing Bear.She mixes Cherokee translations
into her works. In some venues, she sings "Amazing Grace"
in Cherokee. This is included in this book. Her writings are
reader-friendly and may be enjoyed by history buffs or younger
readers beginning Native American Studies.
Barbara Youngblood Carr's writings are both personal and universal.She
often writes about everyday experiences such as a first meal
in a restaurant or the way sand felt between her toes on the
beach. Although they are everyday experiences, they belong to
every man and all can relate to them knowing that similar experiences
are indeed universal.
Carr keeps her legacy alive through her forebears and her descendants
whether it be standing in front of the same mountain where her
Grandfather stood near Fort Davis, Texas or singing the same
hymns her Grandfather sang or taking her own daughter on trips
where her parents took her. Of her ancestors, she says, "They
glitter for us as their eternal spirits fall onto earth to light
our paths so we can walk forward into our own destinies."She
further states, "They become new again through us"
and "When we hear distant wolf howls sing to us, we drift
back and still further back, into ourselves, into the lives of
our ancestors to our beginnings."
Carr's literary gift of word combinations, imagery and figures
of speech allow her to paint word pictures for the reader. She
uses such phrases as: "Giants sleep in every stone history
was written with men's blood, birds whisper our names to fish
and Trees close pores."
Her readers expect humorous poetry and tales in this book, as
they have been in others of the Ancestor Series, and in her books
such as Roaches Is In!, Slices of Humor, and in
her many performances. She does not disappoint them as she includes
new poems on these pages such as, "Hips and Knees";
"What Makes a Man Become a Chiropractor?" and "Sometimes
I'd Like to Be a Snake!"
Although some might want to read this volume in one sitting,
others might want to enjoy each chapter separately, to savor
it, think about how it relates to one's own life as each section
can: the trips, childhood experiences, the loss of loved ones,
memories of one's ancestors, dreams, and daydreams.
Of Barbara Youngblood Carr, it may be said, "Once a poet,
always a poet." When Carr was a teenager, she received the
first Poet Laureate Medalat her high school graduation. In 2005,
she was appointed in Washington,DC to be the first National Poet
Laureate for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a title
she held through 2008. And in 2009, she is the first recipient
of the White Buffalo Native American Poet Laureate Award for
her poem, "Stone of Honor." The judges for this prestigious
award said of her; "she received this award not only for
her excellent writing, but because she is part Cherokee. Her
parents are buried in the cemetery about which she writes."
One might wonder how one can produce such a volume of work of
such great quality and quantity. How can one find inspiration
in observing such critters as fleas and cockroaches? How can
one find inspiration in visiting a medical facility, or a therapist?
Barbara Youngblood Carr provides an answer in one of her own
verses, "I have never been stoned on drugs, but I have been
on such creative highs, so drunk with my Muse, that we couldn't
write the words down onto pages as fast as they flowed out, like
water for chocolate"
Carr has also said, "Another day, another poem," in
one of her newly-written poems (which
is not printed in this book); but it is we, her readers, young
and old, who plead, "Another book, please, Mrs. Carr?"