David Allan Evans: Inside the Life of a Genius

David Allan Evans is a poetry genius. He has a very distinct style of writing. He uses an abundance of unusual verbs in his poems, and uses them in the best way possible. He has written many outstanding poems including “In Memory of Johnny Unitas,” “Pole Vaulter,” and “Bus Depot Reunion.” How his verbs paint! The poems are so detailed to one moment in time, that it lets the reader broaden his imagination to the entire picture. For instance, in “Pole Vaulter,” he details so much that the reader can just imagine the stands and the cheering crowd.

Mr. Evans has an exceptional usage of verbs in his style of writing. Those who enjoy his style love his unique way of writing as a whole. One particularly interesting example is in his poem about Johnny Unitas. He describes an offensive lineman in a picturesque manner. Using similes like “the wall of giant numbers/ avalanching backward.” We really love the verb “avalanching,” and the way it stands out in the poem, helping the reader see what the lineman really looks like. This line is so timely and rich because linemen are the unsung heroes of the offense. Another impressive line from this poem is “The black high tops/ stabbing the turf / like a bullfighters feet.” His adjectives complement his verbs well; in the poem, another splendid example is “an egg-shell pocket” to show the delicacy of a quarterback.

Yet another fine example of his verbiage is in “Bus Depot Reunion,” where a grandpa and his grandson get engrossed in a fake fight, then go off in laughter. Some examples of his excellent verbs are “biffing at the bobbing” to describe some air punches. One of the best lines, in our opinion, is when the sparring old man, “circling, flicks out a hook like a lizard’s tongue.” We had a wonderful opportunity to interview Mr. Evans, and we asked him about verbs. He started his answer with this statement: “Verbs are the guts of language, the guts of poetry, along with nouns.”

“Pole Vaulter” is another first- rate poem Mr. Evans has written. He was inspired to write this poem because he himself was a pole vaulter. The beginning sentence draws the attention of the reader to read the rest of the poem. It is “The approach to the bar is everything.” Throughout the poem he keeps the reader interested by explaining the basic concepts of pole-vaulting in quality detail. Such as “near the peak, I roll my thighs inward, arch my back/ open my hands.” In this prime poem he uses great, sophisticated lines to show the complexity of the vault and how the little details can affect the best jump. A good example is the following: “knowing the best jump can be cancelled by a careless elbow.”

Mr. Evans was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1940. He went to Augustana College on a full ride football scholarship. He also has degrees from Morningside College, Sioux City, the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He has lived in South Dakota since 1968. Besides sports, Evans is interested in biology and ecology. Ecology is the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment, including other organisms. His strongest influence in life is his father. David Allan Evans is the Poet Laureate of the entire state of South Dakota, where he encourages poetry, especially the poetry of young people.

He says, “My inspiration, I think, is to be able to make a poem that people will not be able to forget.”

Works by David Allan Evans

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.