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."
Monday, December 8, 2008
Before the Light Changes, by Irene Honeycutt
Before the Light Changes poems by Irene Blair Honeycutt
ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-120-3 ~80 pages, $14 Go to mainstreetrag.com
Irene Honeycutt has been, like Shelby Stephenson, one of the movers and shakers on the NC poetry scene. She's helped launch an inportant literary festival in Charlotte, not to mention helping to launch numerous young writers on their careers, and she's done what all busy poets struggle to do---launch her own small boats of langague, her poems. I've been enriched by her poetry and her friendship. KSB
----------------------------------------------------------- “Irene Honeycutt defies the easy stereotype of Poet, disengaged from everyday life. Even better, she defies it with a vengeance—an energy that enlivens her work throughout. Whether lying in bed wondering if she should answer the doorbell, staring at an empty computer file, or watching an old man sweep water from his flooded home’s floor after hurricane Katrina, she refuses to let go of the everyday moment, whether interior or exterior, probing the depths of it for its past and ever-present reality. Because she enters her poems so completely, her readers recognize these moments as their own. When Honeycutt declares, ‘Dreams live in buried codes. /Last night they told me: /You carry a corpse around /and you are part of the sun,’ we know what she means. Before the Light Changes renders that interplay of light and shadow in all its shades of mystery.”
—Kathryn Stripling Byer, North Carolina Poet Laureate, author of Coming to Rest
(Irene signing books!)
“Honeycutt ‘slices an apple and its heart opens,’ particularly in those poems in memory of her dead brother. And for all the other absences we tend—and bear, the way ‘darkness holds the moon in place/even when it’s hidden.’ This collection finds her ‘swimming in a dream of a sunken pool we never had.’ But there are moments, also, of poignant humor. When a jazzman asks a friend with dementia how she’s doing, the reply is: ‘Who could ask for anything more?’ Indeed.”
—Julie Suk, The Dark Takes Aim
“In ‘Clearing a Path for Retirement,’ just one of many of the memorable poems in this collection, Irene Honeycutt tells us of her refusal to send ‘parts of my life to the shredder.’ How fortunate we are that she hasn’t but instead used her past to create poems that touch the reader’s heart as she probes the machinations of her own. Before the Light Changes is further proof that Irene Honeycutt is one of North Carolina’s finest poets.”
Ron Rash, author of SERENA
------------------------- The Radio With the Green Eye
The radio with the green eye is playing "I'm so lonesome I could cry." Dad turns the knob, and Gabriel Heater's voice blasts into the living room. Dad folds the Labor Union News and hunches towards the radio's mouth. It is covered with brown cloth. I poke it when no one's around, wondering what goes on inside. Tonight the mouth thunders with bombs. I get up from the sofa. My fear is like the egg I drop on the kitchen floor. Mama just keeps washing dishes, pretends not to notice. Ronnie's in bed, wants me to play checkers. Yesterday, he stepped on the iron rake, sat crying in the garage while Dad poured kerosene over the hole in his foot. His blood soaked the towel. I've learned that if I turn a dial in my head, it all goes away. Even the static of machine guns becomes a blanket of snow, covering the war.
The nurse said she would change his diaper. I spotted her in the hallway much later,
leaving another patient’s room, reminded her to please change my brother’s diaper.
She said she would be there soon. Said she’d be there before the ambulance
arrived to transfer him to the hospice ward. I sat by his side. He never complained.
Minutes ticked and time for the scheduled transfer passed.
An hour later, she rolled a cart into the room.
“They’re on their way,” she said. “Gotta clean him up.”
Another nurse, passing his room, glanced in and grinned at her.
“Lucky you! You always get the ones who need changing.”
I pretended not to hear. Hoped he hadn’t heard.
How patient, how full of grace he was, lying there in swaddling clothes
waiting for the transfer that would surely come.
----------------------------------- When You Think of All the Things Ten Dollars Cannot Buy
says the public radio commentator, pitching for a donation. I am bent over the dishwasher, unloading pots and pans, my heart full, eyes brimming. Send ten dollars a month, and we’ll send a gift: YoYo-Ma’s CD, “The Appassionato.”
Maybe T would like that CD. She sends me energy and love, wants me in her life again. This can’t be bought for ten dollars. She doesn’t invite everyone into her life or her homes. In Mound, Minnesota, you can step out her back door and ski into the woods. A vacation can’t be bought for ten dollars.
This past weekend she flew to Charlotte for a friend’s surprise birthday party. I invited her to lunch. Long-lost friends, we were reunited over garlic nan, navrattan curry. She shared photos of the trips she and her husband recently made to Prague and Budapest, then told me how their estate lawyer looked surprised when he walked into his office and saw them sitting there with an 8x10 photo of their cat between them. Who do you leave an estate to? We’re both only children.
More pictures: The Marco Island homes— one of which she calls, Sandcastle. An iguana on the deck. Day of the Iguana, she laughs. We call him Tennie.. I stare intently at Tennie. It looks strangely like the snake that swallowed the frog in my backyard. I’m still wondering what that meant. It was not about asking for anything. Or devouring. The look on the frog’s face. Something about relinquishment? Shedding?
I e-mail T in Mound. “Here I am again, not knowing what to say, not wanting to embarrass you or sound maudlin. But I want you to know how much I admire your courage. Your tenacity. You know how to live, how to die. I loved your stories. How you told the surgeon who wasn’t sure you should make the trip to Greece: Hey. I can be happy anywhere in a first-class- all-expense-paid hotel room, anywhere! I have no compulsion to climb to the top of the Acropolis. I’ve done that!” And when Nurse Ratchett droned on interminably about what tests they were about to administer, you mentally went to the Aegean Sea and chanted, In one week I will swim in the Aegean Sea, drowning out the siren’s threatening monologue. In one week you were swimming in icy blue waters, thinking of Helen of Troy.”
I love the way we laughed hard yesterday at the Indian restaurant even though she’d shared: I don’t need a workshop on how to be in the Now. I’m here, in my senses, tasting the curry— one of the few that actually knows what I’ll die of.
(Twilight on the Danube)
Bulgaria’s last dancing bears finally footloose
--The Charlotte Observer, 6/16/07
Bought by activists, the three bears will live out their lives roaming a mountain sanctuary with former dancing bears, marking the end of a Balkan tradition outlawed in 1993. Captured in youth, each bear’s nose or lip was pierced, a metal ring inserted, chain attached. They were doomed to travel in cages, dance on embers.
I glance at the photo of Misho, the 19-year-old, whose eyes, even whiskers, are downcast.
Imagine a campfire surrounded by mobs filling the night with jeers and laughter as an old bear makes its appearance, bowing to flickering faces. Before beginning its dance, the good bear gazes deep into the dark forest, then edges closer to the fire. Again and again it circles. A man rises, yanks its chain. The bear stares at the stars while the man forces whiskey from his flask down the bear’s throat, until drunken it stumbles into the embers, makes music with its feet.
The night is young, younger than the bear ever was.
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.