to share documentary
chronicling local poet’s life
Chris Simon brings her latest film, about the life of local poet
Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, to the screen during the 11th annual Festival
of the Arts, April 3-12 at California State University, Sacramento.
The film, titled Down an Old Road: The Poetic Life of Wilma Elizabeth
McDaniel, will be shown at 3 p.m. on April 10 in the University
Union Hinde Auditorium. It documents the experiences McDaniel faced
as a young woman during the Dust Bowl Migration of the early 1930s.
Although the Dust Bowl included migrants from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas,
Missouri and other Great Plains states, the migrants were generically
known as “Okies,” referring to the approximately 20
percent who were from Oklahoma. The term became a fighting word,
with signs saying “No Okies” posted in movie theatres
Today, visitors to the Central Valley may be surprised to hear people
born and raised in California speaking with Oklahoma twangs. The
word “Okie” still has a negative connotation, yet many,
including McDaniel and singer Merle Haggard, have embraced it. They
call themselves Okies to honor the trials they or their parents
went through and to honor the heritage that has made an indelible
contribution to California’s complex society.
In Down an Old Road, filmmaker Simon intertwines history and poetry
to explore McDaniel’s life and vision. Her poems, the core
of the film, are illuminated with images from the Dust Bowl and
life in rural California today.
“This is a multifaceted jewel of a film,” says poet,
novelist and CSUS English professor Mary Mackey. “Ms. Simon
has recorded moments in the life and work of poet Wilma Elizabeth
McDaniel, catching her considerable lyric power as well as the tradition
that inspires her.”
Now in her 80s, McDaniel still writes a poem a day on precious scraps
of paper. However, she no longer keeps them in a shoebox under her
bed – her poems now appear in publications all over the world.
The event is free and includes a reception with Chris Simon from
6 p.m. in the University Union Lobby Suite.
For more information about the Festival of the Arts, contact the
CSUS School of the Arts at (916) 278-ARTS or see the links from
the Festival of the Arts news release at www.csus.edu/news.
Media assistance is available from CSUS public affairs at (916)