The Texas Legislature recently named Paul Ruffin 2009 Poet Laureate of Texas. To those who read literary journals or mid-list popular books, Paul Ruffin is a well-known author and poet. Ruffin is prolific in his writing, having published over a thousand poems, short stories, novels, and nonfiction pieces with decades of unfailing artistry. In the fifth installment of the TCU Texas Poet Laureate Series, editor Billy Bob Hill writes in his introduction that he has long admired Paul Ruffin’s use of poetic devices. Ruffin uses alliteration and subtle textured sounds throughout his poetry, making them likeably conversational while full of crafted sound patterns. Ruffin also employs whimsical narratives, coining the word “Necrofiligumbo” in “When the Mummy Became a Mommy.” But, Hill explains, the true power of this book comes from its storytelling. With the new material, readers will encounter compelling, often drop-dead funny storytelling.
The state of Texas has honored Texas Poets Laureate for seventy-five years, but much of their work has gone unpublished and unrecognized. In a significant step toward recognizing their achievements, TCU Press publishes a series of the work of the Poets Laureate, with a volume dedicated to each poet. The series began with the 2005 and 2006 laureates and continues through each bi-annual appointment. These beautiful volumes collect the finest work of each individual poet. While a single volume may stand alone as a valuable selection of a poet’s work, the series as a whole will draw their different voices together into a singular poetic expression of Texas. The next book in the series will focus on the work of 2010 laureate, Karla K. Morton.