NMLA GRATITUDE AWARD WINNER, 2012
by Anne Valley-Fox
Later Stan rode bulls and bareback horses in rodeos in California and Nevada. His first novel, No Flowers for a Clown (Avon, 1961), featured a rodeo cowboy with a big, sad heart.
During World War II, Stan served in the US Army. His troop’s reconnaissance mission in the Ruhr campaign was to cross the Rhine ahead of US troops and liberate slave labor camps. Stan was awarded the Bronze Star. In 2007 he published Alles Kaputt: Poems of World War II (Timberline Press).The late poet Keith Wilson wrote of this collection, “. . . the stark excitement, camaraderie, revelations, tragedy, horror and fear, and even the beauties of war are held in his rhythms.”
The village was quiet when we reached it
Nothing stirred on the central street
(no slinking cat or barking dog), so
the lieutenant fired from his M8
a single explosive round which made a hole
in the first building to the west. And abruptly
the little town erupted: from windows
on either side linen fluttered and wagged
and up the road toward us ran
a delegation, the mayor maybe with several
other dressed-up gents to greet us effusively,
with every show of “welcome, Americans!”
And you know, that was the quickest way
I’ve ever found of making friends.
(from Alles Kaputt: Poems of World War II)
In civvies again, Stan attended U.C. Berkeley and earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees. There he met Nancy Black, who was to become his beloved wife of 65 years. They lived in France from 1951 to 1953 (Stan had thought he’d attend the Sorbonne, but decided he wanted to be a writer instead) and again in 1962 with their three young children. In 1964 they returned to the states and moved to Santa Fe where, as counterpoint to his writing practice, Stan taught literature at the University of New Mexico and the College of Santa Fe.
When I met Stan in 1980, he was Arts Director for the New Mexico Artists in the Schools program, based in Santa Fe. I’d come down from Taos to interview for a Poet in the Schools position: happily, over a beer at a downtown sidewalk cafe with Stan and the late Michael Jenkinson, I was hired on. Each year, as the Poetry in the Schools program was gearing up and then winding down, Stan and Nancy hosted gregarious gatherings of creative (and sometimes outrageous) writers in their Santa Fe home. Stan never pulled the boss card. His management style, like his persona, was consistently courteous, inclusive, and good-humored. With Stan at the helm, our arts community had the feel of an affectionate, extended family—respect and appreciation flowing in all directions.
Stan and Nancy were avid hikers. Back in the day, if you happened to be up and out before dawn in the Canyon Road neighborhood, you would have seen Stan striding along with his wolf hybrids—he walked them early each morning before going to his writing studio.
Stan often hiked with friends, many of whom were fellow writers. Arthur Sze: “Stan had a long stride and, especially coming down the mountain, I could barely keep up with him.” Mei-mei Berssenbrugge: “You know what a workaholic I am . . . but when Stan asked me to go on a hike, I always went.” John Brandi: “He hiked me up all the major peaks of the Manzanos, Sandias, Jemez, and Sangre de Cristo mountains, wanting me to ‘see from the top what I was missing at the bottom.’”
CLIMBING NORTH TRUCHAS IN SEPTEMBER
~ for Nancy
In this cloud
of fine blowing snow
trudge up over rocks
sharp stones, a steep thousand feet
above alpine valleys
this hogback to reach
13,060 feet, the stone cairn,
halting at times to pant
into the stinging
down on west and east--
small lakes, spruce woods, mountain-
sides streamered with aspens’
sunlight dimly glowing
Now the calm
a cold summit to stand by
here in a winter
beyond the solar world
in cloudy currents
this is truth, a truth
even in spring or summer, while the
heart slows. This is a truth
within—all our seasons,
(from Faces and Spirits)
Stan’s tour de force in prose, to my mind, is Los Comanches: The Horse People, 1751–1845 (University of New Mexico Press, 1993). Based on a decade of research, Los Comanches is a definitive treatise on an advanced and complex equestrian culture. This book was followed by Comanches in the New West (University of Texas, 1999), a handsome presentation of text and historic photographs with an introduction by Larry McMurtry. After that he wrote White Bear, a novel involving French traders and their Comanche counterparts. This beautiful tale of love and clashing cultures is as yet unpublished.
My Half-Wild West, poems of rodeos and western landscape, was published in 2012 by Tooth of Time Press. The opening poem in this hand-bound, hand-sewn chapbook, “The Last Buffalo of San Jon, NM,” was issued in 2014 as a limited-edition broadside, hand-printed by Tom Leech at the Palace of the Governor’s Print Shop and Bindery, on paper made from buffalo-wool fibers. “Coda” is the last poem in this, Stan’s last collection.
CODA: BURNED MOUNTAIN, WINTER, NM
Snow to the tops of fence posts in the canyon
below the road, and in the snowfields
between woods only the tips of the fence
at the cattleguard show where it is. On the distant
mountain, aspens screen the snow with gray,
and above them the forest of spruce and fir,
green-black. The day above the mountains,
the blue supporting the sun, is primal
and intense as it once was everywhere.
Silence. Then a little wind. Silences.
Nothing moves. There’s nothing here but this,
This and sometimes wind, and they are sufficient.
(from My Half-Wild West)
STANLEY NOYES’S BOOK PUBLICATIONS
No Flowers for a Clown (Avon, 1961).
Shadowbox (Macmillan, 1970).
The Indian Rio Grande: Recent Poems from Three Cultures (San Marcos Press, 1977, Gene Frumkin and
Stanley Noyes, editors).
Los Comanches (University of New Mexico Press, 1993).
Comanches in the New West (University of Texas, 1999, introduction by Larry McMurtry).
White Bear (unpublished).
Beyond the Mountains (Solo Press, 1974).
Faces and Spirits (Sunstone Press, 1974).
Commander of Dead Leaves (Tooth of Time Press, 1984).
Alles Kaputt (Timberline Press, 2007).
Annus Mirabilis: A Peripatetic Calendar (Timberline Press, 2003).
My Half-Wild West (Tooth of Time Press, 2012).
Stanley Noyes Reads (Vox Audio, 2010).