Donald Mace Williams

When I was a kid, someone wrote a book about my hometown of Umbarger, Texas. It was a big to-do because no one writes books about Umbarger. I read the book and learned a little about my grandparents as young people. It all became the milieu of my growing up.

When I was 30, I read a poem by a teacher down in Lubbock. I liked the poem, then drove down to Lubbock to have coffee with him. He told me to look up Don Williams because he lives in my area. I said, “I read his book when I was a kid.”

Tonight, I had to pleasure of hearing him read. He’s 90 in October. He quoted Robert Frost from memory, then Beowulf in Old English, gave us a clinic in translating Rilke from German. He’s translated all of Beowulf, and he has an adaptation of it set in West Texas that’s written in couplets that’s an exciting adventure and a statement on man’s encroachment into nature.

When I hear people say there’s no culture in Amarillo, I think “Where the hell do you live?”

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