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A Prolific Island Poet

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Galveston's Jim Boone.

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Jim Boone (photo by Alex Rosa for OutSmart magazine)

As long as poet Jim Boone can remember, writing has played an important role in his life, and the 84-year-old author is not showing any signs of slowing down. 

“Ever since I was a queer kid in the 1940s, I would just write about things that happened to me or around me, because I had nobody to talk to,” he recalls. “It was a way for me to express myself.” 

That poetic expression has continued throughout his life—a means for Boone to capture his experiences as he has gone from career to career. From serving in the U.S. Army in the 1960s to living in Houston during the ’80s AIDS epidemic, Boone has seen a lot. 

“I have always written about things that I have seen and thought about,” he says. “That is why I love poetry. It allows people to create a dialogue, and it gives them a creative outlet.” 

It was not until later in his life, however, that the author decided to publish and recite his autobiographical works. After he published his book Somebody Say “Amen!” and posted his poems on various websites, the author gained quite a following. As his writings began to propel him into the national spotlight, he became a nominee for U.S. Poet Laureate in 2012.

“Never did I think this would happen to me,” he admits. “Writing was something I always kept to myself. If a friend had not coaxed me into the poetic spotlight back in the early 1990s, none of this would have happened. Since then, my ‘poetic’ life has been great fun for me.” 

Nowadays, the author lives in Galveston and has many Island friends. He’s become something of a local celebrity ever since the Island newspaper featured his poet-laureate nomination on the front page of a Sunday edition.

“I have lived here for about ten years now, and I love my ‘poet’s place,'” he says. “Galveston is a special place because it attracts people from all walks of life. There is nothing more diverse than Island living. I pray every day that I can stay here to the very end.” 

Boone is currently the featured poet at Galveston’s historic Rosenberg Library each April when they celebrate National Poetry Month. During this event, Boone reads his poetry as part of a multimedia presentation that allows his words to truly come alive. 

“The main comment I get from folks at my readings is, ‘I can really understand what you are saying, and you write about things that I think about,'” he says.

While Boone was stuck at home during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic, his free time allowed him to write even more. He has now started work on a play titled A Boy Like That. 

“I started working on it after I had been quarantined at home doing nothing for a couple of weeks,” he explains. “I thought to myself, ‘What can I do?’ I woke up one morning and the idea of writing a play just came to me.” 

In many ways, this play is a summary of Boone’s 80-plus years, detailing the experiences of a gay man from the 1930s to 2021.

“It is definitely an autobiography of my life, with a whole lot of fantasy woven through it,” he says. “It is also about gay history—something that I sadly think is not discussed or talked about enough. History is so important, because it affects all of us.” 

For those who are interested in writing and want to start a literary career, Boone has some simple advice: Jot all of your ideas down.

“Write something down every day,” he emphasizes. “A prospective title, or anything that pops up in your head. I also would suggest finding open-mic venues. By reading your poems and getting relaxed with your writing, it will make you better. You will also meet people, and things will happen. I have a banner in my home that says, “If your ship does not come in, swim out to it.” 

Boone will be reciting his poems again in the Rosenberg Library’s Wortham Auditorium on July 1. 

Read the poem ‘Out On A Limb’ by Jim Boone below: 

Out On A Limb

Is the only place to be
on the tree of life.

Not relaxed in the shade
not clutching and afraid

But scaling to the heights
picking the fruits of labor
and imagination

going out on a limb
poised for  f l i g h t.

Worry not about falling
you can only get bruised, broken
or meet your Maker there.

When you go out on a limb
dance,  D
                           A
    N
                     
C
                                            E        

    Jim Boone Poetry 1990

To read more of Jim Boone’s poetry, go to www.poemhunter.com/jim-boone.

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Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.
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