THIS BLOG IS NO LONGER OPERATIONAL. PLEASE ENJOY WHAT IS HERE, AND DO LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU WISH. NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW POET LAUREATE IS CATHY SMITH BOWERS. SHE WILL SOON HAVE HER OWN WEBSITE THROUGH THE NORTH CAROLINA ARTS COUNCIL SITE. I WILL BE SHIFTING MY ATTENTION TO HERE, WHERE I AM, (SEE SIDEBAR)USING IT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO WRITERS WHOSE WORK DESERVES ATTENTION. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT ME THERE. For a video of the installation ceremony, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xAk6fOzaNE.
Go to http://www.yourdailypoem.com/, managed with finesse by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, who says, "Our intent is to make visitors to Your Daily Poem aware of the joy and diversity of poetry."
Friday, August 8, 2008
(Photo by The Sylva Herald)
A week ago, Western Carolina University recognized with an Honorary Doctorate one of its own, a writer who has enlivened the literary scene here in western North Carolina, not to mention the lives of its inhabitants, for over forty years. I say forty years, because I arrived in Cullowhee in 1968 to teach at WCU and shortly thereafter met our new honorary "Doctor." Gary Carden made my acquaintance with his story "Jedro Tolley," the main character racing wildly down the hill on his bike, screaming like a banshee and thus imprinting himself, and Gary, in my imagination forever. This author, I knew for sure, after only the first couple of paragraphs, was the real thing. We became friends, and over the last few decades, I've heard him tell his stories, at which he is a master, and I've watched his plays, goosebumps on my arms and tears, often, in my eyes. "Birdell," "Nance Dude,"and "The Prince of Dark Corners" have joined Jedro in that timeless place of imagination where all our voices come together and live on and on. And when the Prince of Dark Corners himself, Milton Higgins, walked into the dinner hosted by the Chancellor before graduation last Friday night, my skin tingled. My eyes widened. I had to touch the hem of his shirtsleeve! Which I did after dessert was served. And then he gave me a hug. I can't say that was the highlight of my evening, since Gary had earlier given me a hug. Let's just say I was doubly delighted by being in the presence of these two, the actor and the playwright.
(Actor Milton Higgins, in "The Prince of Dark Corners")
Gary has a blog at blogholler.blogspot.com. Here's how he introduced it last year when he began:
THE NEWS FROM BLOG HOLLER
I've been thinking about creating this blog for several years, but each time I typed a sentence I became self-conscious and deleted it. What could I possibly say here that hasn't been said by someone else? Not only that, but it has often been said with grace, beauty and conviction. Well, maybe that is my purpose ... or part of it anyway. I believe I need to pay tribute to all of the folks in Appalachia who have defined this region with integrity and authenticity. I am talking about the novelists, musicians, poets and essayists who create images, characters and sounds that resonate in my heart. Maybe I can render a valuable service by inscribing their names and commenting on their creations. That is one of my objectives, anyway. One other thing. If my language sounds pretentious and/or pompous, bear with me. I think I'll eventually get over it.
Growing up in an isolated cove, I became dependent on radio, comic books and the Ritz Theater. Like most kids of my generation, I sat transfixed in front of the old Silvertone each afternoon, listing to the Lone Ranger, Sargent Preston of the Royal Mounties and Jack Strong, the all-American boy. I collected Captain Marvel Comics, Superman, the Green Lantern and Plastic Man. At night, I listened to Suspense, Inner Sanctum, the Shadow and Escape! Each Saturday, I sat in the front row of the Ritz, watching heroes like "Wild Bill" Elliott, Sunset Carson, Whip Wilson and Lash LaRue.
=============== When I was a little girl, I sat, not in the front row, but in the middle of the Camilla Theater, watching Lash LaRue. And Roy Rogers. Lash was always my favorite. Maybe that's why Gary and I became friends! We both had the same taste in cowboys! And later on, the same taste in writers. Gary has given a great deal of his time to reviewing and promoting other authors, mostly with Appalachian ties, like my friend Isabel Zuber. Here are the three of us at City Lights Bookstore, where Isabel did a reading/signing to celebrate the publication of her first novel, SALT.
(Gary Carden, K. Byer, and Isabel Zuber at City Lights Bookstore)
Gary is taking his memorable "The Raindrop Waltz" to Hendersonville on September 17th. He has a play at SART which may be produced in Bryson City next year, titled "Outlander". "Prince of Dark Corners" is returning to the "real stage" with a performance in Highlands in November. "Nance Dude' will be the centerpiece of the Haywood Bicentennial Celebration in Waynesville this December and "Birdell" will be a fundraiser for NC Writers Network West in September. Gary is a past recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in drama. His stories and poems have been collected over the years. I encourage you to visit his blog to find out more about his writing, his upbringing, his honors, and his insights.
I've lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina since 1968, though I'm a native of SW Georgia. My paternal grandmother was born in the Blue Ridge, and I grew up wanting to live here. Where I am.
I've published five collections of poetry, the most recent 4 being with LSU Press, and have published poetry in magazines ranging from The Atlantic Monthly to Appalachian Heritage. But I also hike, bang pots and pans around in my kitchen, and love several dogs who leave fur all over my carpets. I write poetry because it's my way of singing back to the world both within and without.