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."
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I sit here with my laptop looking out through the fog at the the closest trees, their leaves burning through the mist. The last few days have been busy ones, with a long drive back from Davidson Tuesday night, radio on to NPR stations along the way, excitement building with each state's projections being called. I arrived home just before midnight and Obama's victory statement before the throngs at Grant Park. My husband and I shared a glass of wine, and I celebrated being back home safely, after four days of rejuvenation in Davidson and Charlotte. ( Creative rejuvenation---don't ask me about physical! I spent most of yesterday catching up on my sleep!)
Collaborations with kindred artistic spirits are always rejuvenating, awakening the dormant parts of ourselves that the daily grind has sent underground. This collaboration gathered together an old friend and WCU alumna, soprano Jacquelyn Culpepper (www.jacquelineculpepper.com), pianist Phillip Bush (www.phillipbush.com, me, and composer Kenneth Frazelle (www.kennethfrazelle.com, whose "Appalachian Songbook" we performed, along with piano selections from his "Wildflowers." Well, I didn't perform the music, I read poems in between the sets. We rehearsed all Saturday afternoon, and I came out of the recital hall marveling at how hard musicians work!
The performance itself was spine-tingling, if I do say so myself, but the real engagement with the poetry and music came in the preparations leading up to the program. Weaving poetry, song, and piano into a more or less seamless fabric, and just a day before the performance itself, was challenging and, yes, instructive for me as a poet who is used to walking up to the lectern and doing pretty much what I please with my poetry. This time I had to weave it into a musical structure, and I had to re-read the poems numerous times, so often that I came to realize that these old poems from "Wildwood Flower" and "Black Shawl" still live for me, and I hope for the audiences who came to hear us perform. Collaborations do that! It's good for writers to take part in them, to join creative forces with musicians, dancers, visual artists and create something new and exciting. Speaking of exciting, having the composer, Kenneth Frazelle on hand for the Davidson performance, was icing on the cake. The Q & A afterward brought out some fascinating information about the composition of these songs. WDAV radio interviewed Jacque, Ken, and Phillip the day before the performance. You can find that interview at this link: http://www.wdav.org/2_134_0.cfm.
(Jacque and me after the Davidson performance)
The Davidson campus was beautiful, the leaves brilliant, many of them spiraling down to the walkways. My room at the guest house had a beautiful quilt framed on the wall. (Vicki, what's the name of this pattern? I'm asking novelist Vicki Lane. She knows her quilts!) The staff at the guest house was gracious beyond words--thank you Kelly and Sisi. I met Jason Koo, the young poet teaching the poetry workshop at the college, and I re-connected with longtime friends Bob Cumming, Lou Green, and Tony Abbot. My friend and former English Dept. colleague Elizabeth Evans, recently moved from Cullowhee to The Pines, prepared an elegant supper for me, after which we had a good visit, something I've missed since her departure.
(Novelist Vicki Lane, who knows her quilts, says she thinks this pattern is Pineapple Cactus from the thirties.)
On Election Day we gathered in Charlotte to give two performances as part of Saint Peter's Episcopal Church's Chamber Music Series. If you go to http://cmsp.wordpress.com/ you will learn about this series set in the beautiful sanctuary of St. Peter's. Ken Frazelle was again present at our evening performance, introducing his compositions before we performed. Talk about goose-bumps! This performance captivated me completely. I think all three of us were in top form that evening. I was swept away by the music. A recording of the event is being prepared for WDAV and as soon as it's available, I will provide the link to it.
(Pianist Phillip Bush)
(Composer Kenneth Frazelle)
An additional treat was meeting Elaine Spallone, the Executive Director of the Chamber Music Series. Jacque and I serendipitously met her at the Italian restaurant where we decided to have lunch between performances. She is also a potter, with a fabulous blog, elainespallonepottery.blogspot.com. I'll be adding her blog to my bloglist.
(Elaine Spallone, after lunch)
I'm slowly coming down from the high of my Davidson/Charlotte experience. I look out my window and see that by now the fog is lifting from the valley. Looks like another beautiful day shaping up here in Cullowhee.
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.