By A.J. Kaufman
Following multiple decades of writing, Jeff Price recently published his first poetry collection, called “One Steady Glance.”
In the past, the Johnson City resident’s poetry has been run in poetry reviews, though this collection represents his first major publication. Price teaches English at Science Hill, his 32nd year. He began writing poetry at age 30.
“I throw one of my poems into class every now and then, mostly if I am teaching a form,” he explained to the News and Neighbor. “I find that most times it’s a little odd for the kids because they don’t want to tell me a poem isn’t good. Still, I think they know I’m not a Pulitzer Prize winner, so they humor me.”
The impetus occurred when former student Kade Jenkins — also a “talented poet,” per Price — had a book published and asked Price to write the foreword. Jenkins told Price that his publisher liked the foreword. This encouragement led Price to finally attempt to get his own book of poetry published.
Price says it was encouraging when someone who did not have to tell him his work was good told him it was.
He is also a coach, recently retiring after 38 seasons of coaching wrestling at Jefferson County, Science Hill and Liberty Bell. Coaching wrestling also influenced his writing.
“I’ve written more than a few poems about wrestling over the years,” Price told us. “Some are elegies for wrestlers who have passed away. Wrestling is the best metaphor I know for life, and poetry is full of metaphor.”
Price says his early work is typical of beginning poets, “embarrassingly maudlin and far too short on technique.”
“I believe I’ve developed since then into a competent fake; I feel kind of like a blind squirrel who now and again finds an acorn,” he mentioned. “Auden said that poets aren’t really lonely but poetry itself is because no one reads it. Still, I like to think it will get out there a ways. I’ve been a few places and know a few folks.”
Price served as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard from 1987-1997, attached to 11th and 20th Special Forces Groups. A portion of his book sales will go towards helping veterans get dogs.
“I love dogs,” Price said. “I know the difference my dog makes in my life and want to support an organization that provides them to help veterans who need help and real companionship. I hope if nothing else, people will buy the book to help get dogs for vets.”