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."
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Becoming Billie Holliday, by Carole Boston Weatherford
Becoming Billie Holiday A fictional verse memoir By Carole Boston Weatherford Art by Floyd Cooper
The world knew her as Billie Holiday, but first she was Eleanora Fagan--neglected by her parents, raped by a neighbor, and sent to reform school. She scrubbed marble steps, drank bootleg liquor, smoked then-legal weed, worked in a brothel, and found her voice--all before leaving Baltimore. She hit New York just as the Harlem Renaissance gave way to the Great Depression. Luckily, Eleanora had a voice. She began her singing career as a teen and, by age 25, had not only fronted the era’s hottest bands, but recorded her signature song “Strange Fruit.” Poems by Weatherford trace the singer's journey from B-girl to jazz royalty. Cinematic, sepia-toned art by Cooper completes this fictional verse memoir.
Baltimore-born and -raised, I composed my first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to my mother. My father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of my early poems on index cards.
Since my literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, my books have received many literary honors. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom (2006), illustrated by Kadir Nelson, won a Caldecott Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and an NAACP Image Award. Birmingham, 1963 won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children's Literature Honor and the Jefferson Cup from Virginia Library Association. The Sound that Jazz Makes (2000) won the Carter G. Woodson Award from National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and an NAACP Image Award nomination. Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins (2005) and Remember the Bridge: Poems of a People (2002) both won the North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award. Dear Mr. Rosenwald received a Golden Kite Honor from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. And, in 2007, I received the Ragan-Rubin Award from the North Carolina English Teachers Association. More about my books.
I earned a Master of Arts in publications design from the University of Baltimore and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. I teach at Fayetteville State University and live in High Point, N.C. with my husband Ronald and our college-age son and daughter.
Three poems from BECOMING BILLIE HOLLIDAY
YOU GOTTA SHOW ME
After-hours jam sessions were a crash course in jazz. Every chance I got, I saw beside piano players, studying their fingers striding the keyboard, striking sharps and flats and major and minor chords, trilling syncopated melodies. I trailed their fingers for octaves as they charmed the secretsof swing. Piano masters offered up music's mysteries. I put myself in their hands.
HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN?
Without the microphone, there would be no spotlight, no band backing me with buesy swing.
My voice was small, barely an octave, but the mic enlarged my songs, let me hold listeners close.
With the microphone, my voice was an ocean, deep as my moods, and audiences dove in.
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
I guess I'm a sucker for a sad-eyed pooch 'cause I was a stray myself, running the streets, going from pillar to post as a girl, not sure when or where Mom would pawn me off on neighbors or distant kind.
Someday when I settle down, I'm gonna get a dog to wag its tail like a metronome when I come home and nudge me with its nose. I'll take my pooch everywhere-- clubs, restaurants, even church-- and dare a soul to throw us out.
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.