I wrote the five-song cycle, Wild Critters, at the height of my respect for Alaska's very senior senator, Ted Stevens.
It was 1996. The Newt Gingrich creeps had taken over Washington, D.C. in 1994. The new people on K Street were the Grover Norquists, Jack Abramoffs and Ralph Reeds. They began, rapidly, to suck the life out of our robust, yet fragile democracy. And they immediately began dismantling or choking any government program they could get their purse strings around the throat of.
Among the first intended victims were the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Arguments, especially on the House floor, in favor of doing away with these programs, were among the first signs that anti-progress forces , in their recent ascendancy, were going to be aggressive. And as destructively nihilistic as they could get away with.
The point man in the fight on the GOP side of the aisle, to keep these and other institutions existent, through the creepy time the new right was testing its power, was Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. He saved the NEA more than once.
I wrote Wild Critters then, to thank him for those efforts.
Anyone familiar with Tim Jones' books, Wild Critters and More Wild Critters knows these are the most functional collections of Alaska verse out there. Kids love these poems. A lot. Every elementary school here should have them in the library.