Texas beat author and poet PW Covington naturally spends much of his time on the road.
"I don't know if I like to travel. I just like to be where I can do what I do," Covington said, describing his formula for getting words on the page.
Considering the enormous number of hotel coupons Covington has amassed in his perpetual crisscrossing of the nation, the author's proclivity and skill should come as no surprise. Because of his
wanderlust, he sometimes leaves an open bag of cat food for his feline house sitter.
Covington is the author of numerous works, including several anthologies and even a novel - "Dear Elsa, Letters from a Texas Prison," which he penned while spending 16 months in Dominguez State Jail.
He recently published a collection of autobiographical poetry, titled "Sacred Wounds."
Like much of his writing, "Sacred Wounds" draws from a wellspring of life experiences - from the horrors he experienced while stationed in Somalia to the isolation of incarceration.
But Covington doesn't believe in shying from the darker memories. Instead, he wrestles them into the spotlights of stages at open mic nights and poetry readings. After all, communication and
reflection are methods of exorcism, he said.
"That's why I'm pretty open about my past, my history, my bad habits," Covington said. "I don't try to run and hide from any of that. Because that gets in the way of communication. If it's not true,
what's the point?"
The writer was quick to point to the lingering memories from his experiences in the U.S. Air Force, a career that took him to Somalia and left him with PTSD. In that time abroad, Covington witnessed
the worst humanity is capable of.
"And, when all you pick up from the crater in the road at the checkpoint are pieces of the facts, hands and legs and blood-soaked debris, you pray and pray that you don't find a name," an excerpt
from Covington's "Don't Give it a Name" poem published in "Sacred Wounds."
For Covington, reading his poetry and prose to live audiences is communication in its purest.
"It's not about the poetry. It's not about the things I write," he said. "It's about bringing it and being able to communicate that to an audience."
May 13, he was welcomed back for the second time to The Beat Museum in San Francisco. The museum boasts one of beat poetry's pioneers Jack Kerouac's shirts, among numerous other historic manuscripts,
oddities and artifacts.
Museum employee Brandon Loberg, 32, described that reading as "one long travelogue" with moments of levity but also unflinching honesty.
"There's a lot of influence from the beats in his work," Loberg said.
Despite his constant travels, Covington has made waves in Victoria with a monthly reading all his own, which he has dubbed "Lengua Libre."
The event, which is the first Monday of each month at Guerilla Gourmet on the first floor of the Victoria Advocate's offices at 311 E. Constitution St., recently welcomed punk rock poet Amalia Ortiz.
Ortiz's unique brand of spoken word poetry examines the role of women in a postmodern age of global capitalism and changing gender roles through the post-apocalyptic genre.
Following her performance, members of the audience were welcome to read at least three minutes of anything they chose.
Covington's former high school teacher Bill Pekar, of Cuero, said he was hardly surprised with his former student's accomplishments.
Pekar said his memories and perceptions of the writer are still relevant after more than two decades, recalling Covington as a unique soul: "He marched to the beat of his own drum. He wasn't afraid."