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 7, 2008
Smithfield Poetry Workshop: James Weston
If you might be thinking that I was suffering from poetry overload, after my visit to N. Johnston High School (previous post), not to worry! In the evening, I led a round-table poetry workshop at the Smithfield Public Library, sponsored by the Johnston County Arts Council, organized and overseen by the indefatigable Jessica Meadows, with over a dozen in attendance, including two young elementary school students. This time I asked the group to riff on “I remember,” and some wonderful work came bubbling to the surface. I'd like to feature James Weston's poems from that session, beginning with his remembering poem. My next post will feature the work of another workshop participant, Teresa Blackmon, who lives in Benson.
"Pickling Memo & Dado"
I remember Memo’s ancient apron and the smell of canning pickles Memo was as big as her house and sent Terror through my tiny bones With her reptile glare down So far down on me. So I would sneak out of the kitchen To Dado’s smile and his cigar-scented hands and he would trundle us both off and Out to the Dodge Charger with the fading paint Out to the farm with the eternally calm cows Chewing their way through the universe Out from the chill of Memo’s sour smiles Out until I was big enough to understand How woman and man orbit, collide and somehow change Forever back into their original form. Thank you Memo. (Dear reader: Memo was my great-grandmother and Dado my great-grandfather. Both were born, lived and died in Nebraska.)
I later emailed James about some of his work, and here is his response:
"I've noodled with Tiny Boat, and like it a bit better. Changling is so short that I wonder if it's maybe the kernel of something wider. I've also included my first stab at a paradelle, Sweet Pepper and Our Words on the Water, and also what came of your "I remember..." idea, Pickling Memo & Dado."
James Weston lives with his wife Nicole and their newborn son, Jérôme Nael, in Johnston County, NC. He is an NC-born, NY-raised guy who's favorite response to "What do you do for a living?" is one from a Woodstock hippie: breathe! Aside from persistent respiration, he enjoys Chinese martial arts, Quantum Touch healing, grubbing in the garden and letting words arrange themselves around unspeakable things. He makes his living by helping people overcome their chronic pain and health problems, and some headhunting on the side. Go figure.
OK, here's the "noodling" of the I Remember springboard poem. What do you think? Teachers and students---what's gained by this revision? Anything lost?
Pickling Memo & Dado
I remember Memo's ancient apron
and the smell of canning pickles
Memo was as big as her house and sent
Terror through my tiny bones
With her reptile glare down
So far down on me.
So I would sneak out of the kitchen
To Dado's smile and his cigar-scented hands
and he would trundle us both off and
Out to the Dodge Charger with the fading paint
Out to the farm with the eternally calm cows
Chewing their way through the universe
Out from the chill of Memo's sour smiles
Out until I was big enough to understand
How woman and man orbit, collide and somehow change
Forever back into their original form.
Thank you Memo.
HERE ARE A FEW MORE POEMS BY JAMES WESTON:
The tiny boat seems to wait
for the feel of your rough hands
for morning sun to warm the deck
and for the first urge to move
It never really sleeps
more of a sussurring loll-about,
gently moored and content
in the endless lick from one wave
that whispers it’s arriving
only to change shape
and bring fresh tidings
Of the world inside this one
the waking dreamer in you
This is what weaves through every belly
Every leaf and stone,
Escapes the grey lips of the dying
and into the waiting sky
Sing it always shouts
with unreasonable joy
The same joy that lands
in your harbor
as you step aboard the tiny boat. -------------------------------
A cloud waited at the end of the street I thought it waited for me to spell the word, my first name
the name of one who remembered big things in little hands hidden sweets and summer bruises
Instead it just wound around the breeze waiting until I had forgotten pausing until we both became a changeling chasing nothing.
It might be a child in the window
Maybe how the sun carved a cloud
Yes, it could be
A place to rest eyes too long open.
For me it is the startle
of being served such beauty here
How the slack cheeks pull the eyes
and white as wet bone
No other place than here,
Forget the forgetting with all this
Light coming down
I am still for you, and home’s closer
Sweet pepper and our words on the water
I trust in God while they build a peaceful fence I trust in God while they build a peaceful fence This is a fine play, your need to mend This is a fine play, your need to mend This God I play while they mend your Trust is a fine peaceful need to fence
Sweet pepper and our words on the water Sweet pepper and our words on the water I bite you with my lip as we turn I bite you with my lip as we turn As I pepper you with my words, our lips water We bite on the sweet and turn
Baby wants to drink into a bottle but not now Baby wants to drink into a bottle but not now He clings to her and I wrestle it with my mind He clings to her and I wrestle it with my mind Her mind clings but not to bottle my baby He wants a wrestle with it and into my now
You baby, I trust while I bite and wrestle your words And they play her a fine sweet turn, my mind clings to this fence It wants to pepper our lips with peaceful water We turn into God
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.