Hometown Heritage to host business poet Jim Autry July 16

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Des Moines business poet and retired Meredith Corp. executive Jim Autry will read selections from his latest volume July 16 at La Poste in a Hometown Heritage event.

Paying Attention coverHometown Heritage today announced the first of its summer events: an evening of poetry and song featuring business poet and retired Meredith Corp. executive James Autry.

Iowa poet Autry, whose works have been anthologized and publicly shared by the likes of Bill Moyers on his “Moyers and Company” series and Garrison Keillor on NPR’s “The Writer’s Corner,” will visit Perry July 16 for a 7 p.m. reading of selections from his latest volume of poems, “On Paying Attention: New and Selected Poems.”

La Poste at 1219 Warford St. will serve as the venue for the Hometown Heritage event.

Autry published his first book of poetry in 1983 and is the author of several books of poems and practical philosophy, including “Looking Around for God,” “The Servant Leader,” “Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership” and “Choosing Gratitude: Learning to Love the Life You Have.”

In his 30 years at Meredith Corp., Autry worked his way up from copy editor to editor-in-chief of the Des Moines publishing powerhouse, a $500 million operation with nearly 1,000 workers.

The retired executive now consults in leadership and management and is active in numerous civic and charitable organizations. He helped found People for the American Way in 1981, a constitutional rights organization, and still serves on its board. Autry also founded the Des Moines Poetry Festival.

Along with his wife, former Iowa Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson, Autry supports several autism-awareness organizations, including Autism Speaks, formerly the National Alliance for Autism Research.

The University of Missouri-Columbia awarded Autry the Missouri Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service in Journalism in 1991 in honor of his long track record of excellence in publishing.

His latest volume of poetry, “On Paying Attention: New and Selected Poems,” is a selection of poems from all his books, plus 25 new pieces. Here is a sample from the new volume, a poem called, “Strategic Planning Advice”:

Here in the midst
of your planning and forecasting,
your future scenarios and contingencies,
consider this day.
This day, now, awaits your best work.

Coon Rapids musician Chad Elliott will kick off the Hometown Heritage event at 5 p.m. in the Cellar at La Poste. A frequent performer in Perry, Elliott’s music that has been described as Americana, roots and country. The prolific singer-songwriter will record his 20th album this summer in Nashville.

New Hometown  Heritage intern Jared Bloom, 2011 PHS graduate and recent ISU history graduate.
Jared Bloom of Bouton, the new intern at Hometown Heritage, is a 2011 PHS graduate and recent ISU history graduate.

Hometown Heritage also announced it has taken on a new intern archivist, Jared Bloom of Bouton. Bloom is a 2011 graduate of Perry High School. His recent bachelor’s degree in history from Iowa State University “promises to make his a valuable asset to the mission of Hometown Heritage, which is to build community capacity and development through the study, communication and celebration of small-town life through social history and the arts,” said Bill Clark of Perry, president of Hometown Heritage, the Fulheart-Carnegie Trust formerly known as Hometown Perry Iowa.

Bloom said working in the Hometwon Heritage archives perfectly suits his career plans.

“After talking with a few professors and professionals, I decided that I am interested in working in a museum setting, either as something like a curator or in a collections-preservation sort of role,” Bloom said. “I discovered that for me, this meant getting some good experience in the right kind of setting, and then going to a graduate school for a degree in museum studies. This is the part where Hometown Heritage enters into my plans. Hometown Heritage is providing me with a wonderful opportunity to earn the kind of experience that I am looking for and much more. I get to work not only with the kind of software that many museums use, but I also have the opportunity to earn some event-managing experience, as there are various events coming up in this area that I am excited to have a hand in.”

Visit the Hometown Heritage website for more information about the Autry event. The poet will be available after the event to sign his books, which can be found at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines.

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