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."
Sunday, September 28, 2008
On the Same Poem: Mountain Time
Here is the poem selected for the 2008 "On the Same Poem" program (see earlier post, below this one). Students, teachers, readers of all ages and interests, if you have any questions or comments about the poem, please send them to me via the "comments" below.
News travels slowly up here in the mountains , our narrow roads twisting for days, maybe years, till we get where we’re going, if we ever do. Even if some lonesome message should make it through Deep Gap or the fastness of Thunderhead, we’re not obliged to believe it’s true, are we? Consider the famous poet, minding her post at the Library of Congress, who shrugged off the question of what we’d be reading at century’s end: “ By the year 2000 nobody will be reading poems.” Thus she prophesied. End of that interview! End of the world as we know it. Yet, how can I fault her despair, doing time as she was in a crumbling Capitol, sirens and gunfire the nights long, the Pentagon’s stockpile of weapons stacked higher and higher. No wonder the books stacked around her began to seem relics. No wonder she dreamed her own bones dug up years later, tagged in a museum somewhere in the Midwest: American Poet--Extinct Species.
Up here in the mountains we know what extinct means. We’ve seen how our breath on a bitter night fades like a ghost from the window glass. We know the wolf’s gone. The panther. We’ve heard the old stories run down, stutter out into silence. Who knows where we’re heading? All roads seem to lead to Millennium, dark roads with drop-offs we can’t plumb. It’s time to be brought up short now with the tale-teller’s Listen: There once lived a woman named Delphia who walked through these hills teaching children to read. She was known as a quilter whose hand never wearied, a mother who raised up two daughters to pass on her words like a strong chain of stitches. Imagine her sitting among us, her quick thimble moving along these lines as if to hear every word striking true as the stab of her needle through calico. While prophets discourse about endings, don’t you think she’d tell us the world as we know it keeps calling us back to beginnings? This labor to make our words matter is what any good quilter teaches. A stitch in time, let’s say. A blind stitch, that grips the edges of what’s left, the ripped scraps and remnants, whatever won’t stop taking shape even though the whole crazy quilt’s falling to pieces.
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.