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The wonders of Texas prepared distinguished poets to appreciate America’s national parks

The national parks are America’s priceless treasures. These lands still need those who are willing to give their time and hearts to make sure the parks continue to be protected.

As poets laureate, this was our calling: to visit all 62 national parks and write poems and take photos for each, with a percentage of our book sales going back to the national parks.

We, however, are Texas poets laureate. There are new meanings of grand. Even by national park standards, Texas stands up: Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains, ocean, plains, Big Thicket. Because our eyes were already widened by Texas, we had the capacity to appreciate all the wonders the national parks had to offer.

Certain things should never fall out of social consciousness. In this digital age, there is no replacement for nature at its most profound. Wonder cannot be exported or imported but can be captured with words—and those words can travel unlimited miles.

The parks are a gift, a legacy, something uniquely American. What better way to instill inspiration in our fellow humans than by bringing these beauties, in the form of books, into their homes. We believe poetry is every person’s art, just as the national parks are every person’s inheritance.

karla k. morton’s suitcase at White Sands National Park.

Alan Birkelbach

Texas was built on big dreams and big quests. Had we lived in a lesser state—another state—we would not have had that in our blood. It prepared us culturally to think beyond borders, to think past the horizon.

Travel doesn’t make San Antonio or Fort Worth less iconic. Texas prepares you for wide-accepting visions and makes you appreciate home even more.

A lot of the early parks were created under monumentalism. Consider the Alamo, the Chisholm Trail and Willie Nelson—is there anything more monumental than Texas?

This is what we came home to, and still come home to—every time.

Texas has a rich and deep literary history. We were spoon-fed this from our youth. Like Homer recounting the journey of Odysseus, we longed to be the eyes and ears for the homebound, to bring our tales back to the hearth.

We’re certainly not the first artists who believe inspiration could come through great natural beauty, who have fallen in love with the grandeur of our national parks, but we wanted to take it one step further and try to do something incredible: to infuse that beauty into the written word—the eternal language of poetry.