By Lara Trace
Thanks to the world-wide-web, blogging can connect people to past, present and future in brand new ways… and we make new friends who become our relatives.
As promised, I’m interviewing some of my most inspiring friends. One of them is renown Seattle poet J. Glenn Evans (Cherokee). He’s contributed to this blog numerous times over the past five years. J Glenn and I first met online after my memoir came out and we soon discovered we have a mutual friend — the legendary Seattle record label exec JERRY DENNON, my old boss/employer at Jerden Records back in the early 90s.
Jerry Dennon is best known for producing hits like “Louie Louie” when he was The Kingsmen’s producer thirty years earlier… I spent about a year working as Mr. Dennon’s right- hand-assistant and helped him on his third incarnation into the music business when SEATTLE GRUNGE was just hitting its stride with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam… I loved living and working in downtown Seattle… Dennon was going to reproduce some of his catalog and I helped him do that.
Jerry and J Glenn met as investment bankers/stock brokers.
By synchronicity then years later I meet J Glenn who is a truly prolific writer and poet and community organizer. It’s a small world and it just keeps getting smaller!
Here’s a bit about this trailblazer’s background and career:
Part Cherokee, and a native of Oklahoma, J Glenn Evans has lived in Seattle over 54 years beginning in 1960 and now resides in Olympia, Washington. He worked in a lumber mill, operated a mining company and co-produced a movie, Christmas Mountain, with Mark Miller, starring Slim Pickens. Evans, an award-wining poet, has written numerous political essays and is the author of several local community histories…
Now for some questions:
Where did you grow up and what was that experience like?
J Glenn Evans: I was born December 21, 1930 in Wewoka, Oklahoma, the capital of the Seminole Nation. Many of my classmates were Seminole, including Amelia Brown, great-granddaughter of the famous Gov Brown, chief of the Seminole Nation around the Civil War period.
The 1930s were the days of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. I remember playing out in front of the house when my mother came out, grabbed me by the arm and yelled, “Come, we’ve got to get inside.” I looked back and saw a wall of sand as high as I could see bearing down on us. When we got inside the angry sand beat the windows and streamed under the doors.
We were sharecroppers and I was tired of Biscuits and Gravy all the time. I asked my mother, “Could we have some eggs?” She said, “We don’t have any.” I said, “I seen some in the icebox.” She said, “Those are Mr. Looneys. We sold ours to buy you school books.”
Those times were hard, but neighbors seemed to help each other.
Do you recall the first time you wrote something (story or poem) and knew it was good, or even great? How old were you?
J Glenn: The earliest writing I did was a filler called “Expecting A New Baby” that was published in The American Baby and they paid me $5.00 for it. Today that would be equivalent to $100 (a nickel candy bar then now sells for almost a buck). This was a story that parents should prepare their children to expect a new brother or sister so they will not be jealous of the new baby. At that time I was age 15. I went on to write for the high school newspaper called the Little Tiger. I wrote a story about two buddies and I camping out in the woods near the Wewoka Creek and being stalked by a cougar. We’d seen what looked like cougar tracks on the creek bank earlier in the day and really believed that we had been stalk by a cougar. With a little age I suspect it was our imagination.
Tell us about PoetsWest? How can people hear the podcasts?
J. Glenn: I was writing lots of poetry and hosting three different poetry venues we called PoetsWest when a fellow member of Seattle Free Lances suggested that I contact the local radio station and propose a program on poetry. She knew Ed Bremer, the manager of KSER90.7 FM of Everett, WA near Seattle. She referred me to him. His reaction was “Who in the hell listens to poetry” but he said, “I’ll give you 30 minutes a week,” and he scheduled us on a remote Saturday afternoon when there were few listeners. After two months he moved us up to his prime time, every Thursday at 6:30 pm on his Road Home show. This was right before Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and has kept us on prime time for the past seven years. You can listen to the two most recent program on our website. Here is the link: http://www.poetswest.com/radio_programs.htm
You recently had to relocate from Seattle to Olympia. What happened?
J. Glenn: After living in Seattle 54 years and in our apartment for 27 years, the Panorama House was sold to some eastern investors. They gave us notice that we must vacate within six months. If we wanted to return after their remodel job the rents would essentially double. We told them and Seattle to “Go Jump” and moved to Olympia where we got the same square footage for $960 a month against $1400 we were paying that would have doubled to about $2800 if we returned. To reflect our outrage I wrote an essay called, “We Have Moved” (read essay below). We will miss our lovely city of Seattle that we have called home for so many years and getting to see our close friends often, but Olympia reminds us of Seattle when we first came to Seattle in 1960 when the tallest building in town was the Smith Tower.
You asked me about having more than one name and you have this same issue. Care to explain?
J. Glenn: I too have had multiple names. My original name was “Jackie Johnny Junior Glenn.” My birth father’s name was John Glenn, whom my mother stayed married to only one year then they split. My mother was only 16 years of age. My birth father, John Glenn, kidnapped me when I was one year old and took me to the Gulf of Mexico.
My mother re-married to Jefferson Davis Evans when I was four years old. He went by J. D., being raised a southerner, when he was in the U.S. Marines. He was the only father I knew until high school. My mother never used my birth certificate name, but always called me Jackie Ray Evans. When I was a teenager, I had an aunt who was a legal secretary. She helped me to change my name legally to Jackie Ray Evans and as I grew up I used “Jack R. Evans.”
My mother’s brother, Uncle Harvey, raised my mother as she was only two years old when her own mother died in the 1918 flu epidemic. This grandmother was where I got my Cherokee heritage. She was a quarter Cherokee. Mother knew her grandmother who was a half-breed Cherokee, but she never told me much about her. Her last name was Harjo. I wish I had information on my great-great grandparent, who was a full blood Cherokee, but I guess that will never be. But I honored him with my poem, “My Grandfather Spoke,” in my book, Buffalo Tracks. Although, my percentage of Indian is small, I have become more Indian in spirit than white.
I did not get to meet my birth father until I was in high school. I liked him very much, though it did not lessen my love for my stepfather who raised me. He had three boys and a girl so I discovered a new family. He was office manager of the Loftland Drilling Company, a large oilfield supply company out of Oklahoma City.
When I shucked my career as a stockbroker and became a full time writer, I adopted the professional name of J. Glenn Evans, because I wanted to also honor my birthfather. It worked out well. There are hundreds of “Jack Evans” but only one or two J. Glenn Evans when you Google that name. More people now know me as J. Glenn Evans than ever knew me as Jack Evans. So with my names changes, you see how I can respect your selection of various names. Thank God, I didn’t get stuck with Jackie Johnny Junior Glenn.
Books by J. Glenn Evans
PoetsWest Radio Programs
WILL YOU BE NEXT?
You live in a neighborhood of educated, articulate, intelligent, and artistic people, or maybe just good old common folks. These are your neighbors, relatives, people who have become dear friends over the years. Then suddenly an outside force without any notice or negotiation comes in and says you all must all move; you have six months to get out. Gone are your neighborhood and friends, a community destroyed.
This happens again and again and government does nothing to stop it. With Panorama House in Seattle it is reported that the new owners paid in the range of $74 million for the property and budgeted up to $20 million for remodeling and upgrading. According to present tenant laws, what happened to the people in Panorama House is legal. When Panorama House was constructed in 1962, the project was funded by the government and repaid by the tenants over the years. Therefore, the tenants, not the former owners, paid equity into the building. Laws that deeply favor the landlord must be changed to provide a more favorable balance between the owners and the tenants. The tenants, who are being forced to relocate against their will, should be paid at least a $10,000 relocation fee, an amount that more favorably reflects what are the true costs of this unsettling. This cost would only require another $2 million or 2% added to the budget. The new buyers could have negotiated with the former owners to pay half of these costs in the deal. After all, they have had a free ride all these years, receiving annual profits and a fabulous capital gain all paid for and earned by the tenants, who received nothing. It’s time for new thinking about tenant’s rights with properties being hogged up by big corporations.
Speculative money is forcing long-term citizens/tenants out of their homes as in the recent sale of the Panorama House. Some tenants have lived here over 40 years and many more over 20 years. This has caused the destruction of a community of people who have contributed to the vitality of Seattle. Many of these folks, who are now elderly, have been advised that if they want to move back in after remodeling, rents will essentially double to reflect market rates, an impossible cost for many of them.
Well, the market be damned. It’s a capitalist tool of speculators, developers, bankers and money manipulators who artificially create their funny money that is used to push honest hardworking people to the brink. Modern society must come to recognize that shelter, like food, healthcare and education, are not commodities to be manipulated by speculators who give the outrageous excuse that this is the market. It’s time these vital necessities be treated like utilities and have their prices regulated based on costs and a reasonable profit, not manipulation and speculation. Otherwise, these productive functions should be taken into public ownership and operated for the common good and not for personal private profit. We need rent control to be regulated by the local communities, not prohibited or regulated by the state. Local factors vary too much for the state to be involved in such regulation. We also need a massive program of public housing that is sheltered from market manipulation. Otherwise the heart and soul of our city will die. Taxing the new construction projects that are crowding out and killing our older communities can finance this.
Rent control is not the only major problem our society is facing. If the legislators do not change the laws to close the tax loopholes, take private money out of elections, provide a fairer, economic, social, criminal justice and wipe out this outrageous inequality by new tax laws, then we must change those who represent us. They must also quit funding predatory wars, quit trashing our Constitution with unconstitutional laws that allow the so-called leaders to commit war crimes and violate international laws. They must desist in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and manipulating or destroying democratically elected leaders. They must cease and desist in accepting corruption money from lobbyists and other bribers. If these actions are not taken then we need to change our elected representatives before it becomes necessary for the people undertake stronger measures that they and their rich friends are blindly driving us to.
Due to the gross inequalities that have developed with mega capitalism, we need to devise a new system. Socialism does not have all the answers, but frankly, I think it is time we take a realistic look at Socialism where rents are stable; healthcare is provided without bankrupting the citizens; our young folks are educated without a lifetime of debt hanging around their necks; everyone able to work is employed; everyone is cared for and provided food and shelter.
The resources of this earth are here for all life, not reserved for a few rich grabbers. Why should one person have enough for a thousand lifetimes and a thousand families go hungry and unsheltered. After seeing what big concentrations of money is doing to our democracy, we need an equalization tax. Any private corporate ownership in the hands of one individual or institution, regardless of where they are headquartered, that exceeds $10 million should be taken into public ownership and any income that exceeds $1 million per year should be taxed 95%. If the Rockefellers, Wall Street tycoons and CEOs can’t afford to keep up their mansions, they can always take in boarders. Mega Buck psychopaths did not earn that wealth. They get it by manipulation and speculation in casino gambling on Wall Street.
WHAT HAPPENED AT PANORAMA HOUSE MUST NOT HAPPEN AGAIN—WE MUST CHANGE THE LAWS OR THE LAW MAKERS WHO HAVE NOT ADDRESSED THIS PROBLEM
RENT CONTROL AND MORE PUBLIC HOUSING, GO GREEN!! OR LET’S RECYCLE THE LEGISLATURES AND CITY COUNCILS WHO DO NOT ACT!!
SUPPORT THOSE WHO STAND STRONG FOR RENT CONTROL; SOMETHING WE MUST HAVE IN SEATTLE UNLESS WE WANT OUR ONCE WONDERFUL CITY TO BECOME KNOWN AS A SOULLESS GREEDSVILLE.
Copyleft 2014 J. Glenn Evans
Feel free to copy and distribute as broadly as possible…
J. Glenn Evans, founder and director of PoetsWest, is the author of two novels, Broker Jim, and Zeke’s Revenge, and four books of poetry, Window In The Sky, Seattle Poems, Buffalo Tracks, and Deadly Mistress. His poems appear in the Poets Table Anthology (SCW Publications, 2002) and in diverse other publications. Under his real name, Jack R. Evans, he has authored several local community histories and two biographies. Click on books for a list of his publications, including a history of Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. J. Glenn Evans was awarded the 1999 Faith Beamer Cooke Award by Washington Poets Association in recognition of service to the poetry community of Washington and the 2003 Seattle Free Lances Award for literary achievement. Evans is also the host and co-producer of PoetsWest on the air, a weekly program of poetry, music and interviews broadcast from KSER 90.7 FM in Everett, Washington. He is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. J Glenn is past president of the Seattle Free Lances, AKCHO and the past vice president of the History Guild. His books can be purchased at the links above.
My deepest thanks to J Glenn for being a supporter of my poetry chapbooks and my memoir. He is a good friend and a true inspiration… Lara/Trace