Shawnee Poet Laureate

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James L. “Jim” Spurr,77, Shawnee Poet Laureate & Humanitarian
By: Don J. Brewington

Early Years

As a 9-year-old living in Shawnee in 1949, I was introduced to Jimmy Spurr for first time.

Though was not a pleasant experience, I did notice this Jim Spurr guy had more sides to him than a octopus – all good sides, but it took some time getting use to his intellect and downright honesty.

Jim Spurr and I had only one thing in common in those days, and that was we both loved sports. Although I was always an athlete, I had never ventured outside my comfort zone, but Jim had artistic side which made him a very unique individual for the 1950’s.

Jim Spurr and I grew up on Jefferson Circle and he lived just across the street. This neighborhood as it turned out became address of many famous people. Jerry Vandergrift of Van’s Pig Stands lived there and was Spurr’s best friend. Carl Hubbell, Hall of Fame Baseball player lived there with his family, and Bill Pitt, father of actor Brad Pitt, lived near. Ross Porter, Jr., who became the voice of Los Angeles Dodgers until he retired in California, was a neighbor as well.

Spurr could cut you to pieces with his dry humor in those days and still can today if and when he chooses to. His published poetry is full of days of the great 1950’s.

Jim graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1968 thru GI Bill a program available for veterans after serving in the 82nd Airborne. Spurr attended OBU and graduated in 1968 while working full time at an auto parts store in Shawnee.

In all the years Spurr and I remained friends, he taught me about the world of arts, especially poetry. As kids, there was no way I would ever listen to poetry, no less write poems, but Spurr had a patience that matched his wit.

Spurr’s beauty with poetry blossomed during his college years.

“While attending OBU, my speech teacher Professor Simpson told me she liked the way I read poetry, and I was hooked from then on with poetry,” he said.

That addiction became a life-long talent. In 2010, Spurr was honored as Poet Laureate of Shawnee, chosen by Shawnee City Commission.

A poet laureate is asked at government functions to write poems for special occasions.

“I trace my thoughts to my service as a Army paratrooper in the 11th and 82nd Airborne divisions, as I neared my first jump I thought, ‘I should write about experience one day and call it my glorious instant,’” Spurr said. “A lot of inspiration came after that because the chute opened.

“As Poet Laureate of Shawnee, I view it as an opportunity to bring more poetry to the city.”

Spurr’s passion for football still burns brightly with his long time support of Shawnee High Wolves football and his love for Notre Dame. Spurr was Quarterback Club supporter for many years for Shawnee Wolves, but the one gift Spurr did not have was athletic ability.

Spurr is married to Aline Smith, who was an original feminist, and lives and writes in Shawnee.

Here are two poems that can be purchased by Spurr.

His email: jspurline@aol.com

1. Book- “Open Mike Night/Thursday”

2. Book-“Hail Mary’,On Two’

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