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, September 26, 2008
Cashiers Community Library: Friendship Garden Dedication
I've just returned from a lovely dedication, though I prefer to call it a celebration, at the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library [http://www.fontanalib.org/cashiers/aboutCashiers.htm}, where two long-time friends, Dr. Barbara Carlton and Deen Day Sanders, were honored for establishing a Friendship Garden off the main reading room of the library. Cashiers is just over the mountain from Cullowhee, but the road is one winding spiral after another, so I gave myself plenty of time to get there by noon, when the celebration was to begin. I'd been asked to present a reading-- after the garden dedication-- by Barbara Carlton's daughter, Julie McClelland, and I came prepared with several poems I hoped the audience would like. The crowd was large and enthusiastic. Cashiers has a lively group of readers who have supported their library over the years. I met many of them when I drove over to lead a discussion of Lee Smith's ON AGATE HILL, our Together We Read selection last fall. We had enjoyed the evening together, and to make the discussion even more interesting, one of the attendees had been in school with Lee at Hollins! I was glad to be back today, in a library so obviously loved and used by its community. The Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library opened its doors in the summer of 1994. The Cashiers community had started a community based all volunteer library in the 1980's called Johannson Memorial Library, but felt that the area needed a full service library with trained staff so began a campaign to bring a branch library to Cashiers. Through county and regional negotiations and fundraising a beautiful native stone post and beam library was constructed. The family of Albert Carlton was the primary private contributor and a major force in bringing a branch of the Jackson County Library and Fontana Regional Library system to the area.
(Friends of the Library President Sandy Bayley welcomes us to the Friendship Garden, with the honorees sitting beside her.)
(Barbara Carlton and Deen Day Sanders chat together before the Dedication begins.)
(Julie McClelland and her son talking with the honorees.)
(Interior of the library--full of light. The design of this facility makes me want to settle down with a book and spend the rest of my life there!)
(What a gorgeous spread of edibles! And there was another like it on the opposite side of the meeting room. Note the artwork on the wall. The Cashiers library keeps artwork by members of its community on display throughout the year.)
Before we could indulge our appetites at the two reception tables, we had to hear some poetry. Or rather, I had to read some, which I was more than pleased to do for such a receptive group of listeners. I began with "Nature's Trail, " which I had written for the dedication of the Bernice Campbell Stripling Nature Trail in my hometown of Camilla, Georgia, four years ago. And how could I not read "Beginning At the Bottom," written for last year's North Carolina Library Association conference? "Last Light," first published in Warren Wilson College's HEARTSTONE journal and reprinted in the NC Humanities Council's CONVERSATIONS, introduced the theme of language and our sense of place, how language can help us preserve the places we love, a topic very much on the minds of many of us in the mountains these days. Finally, to get us all ready for the feast that awaited, I closed with my laureate poem, "Piece of Cake." Now, about that feast--shrimp (and not tiny ones, either) with cocktail sauce, cheese in many forms and presentations, what looked like hushpuppies but tasted like a luscious cross between corn pudding and cheese custard. And that's only the beginning. You'll have to use your imagination to complete the menu.
(Here I am on stage, after my reading, with head librarian Sarah Skrobis.)
As Sandy Bayley declared in her Welcome, libraries are not luxuries, they are NECESSITIES. I would add that they are the heart of our communities. May poetry always flourish within them!
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.