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
NIGHT HUNTRESS by Joanna Catherine Scott
poems by Joanna Catherine Scott
ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-106-7 80 pages, $14
Joanna Catherine Scott is the author of the novels The Road from Chapel Hill; Cassandra, Lost; The Lucky Gourd Shop; and Charlie; the nonfiction Indochina's Refugees: Oral Histories from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam; and the poetry collections Breakfast at the Shangri-la and Fainting at the Uffizi. A graduate of the University of Adelaide and Duke University, she was born in England, raised in Australia, and now lives in Chapel Hill.
I wept over this book. Every one of us has known a young man or woman who has gone out and got drunk and killed themselves. In telling the story of one, Night Huntress speaks for all. And yet there is no preaching or hyperbole. The story is told simply, in language so controlled and elegant that a brutal misadventure becomes transformed into a thing of melancholic beauty. A shocking but at the same time a comforting and healing book.
Scott succeeds in giving us not just an evening’s disaster, but the story of an entire family and the rings of joy and sorrow that surround it. Starting with what is, in fact, a compressed novel told in the heightened language of poetry, she expands outwards into a series of meditations on grief and healing, ending with the lovely benedictory "In the Dawn Valley," the title itself evoking a new beginning.
HOW THEY INSIST
It is good, this quiet, this getting away to sit by a pond with a small waterfall and a frog squatted on a rock beside it, early sunlight flashing off the wings of dragonflies. It is good, after everything, after the funeral, with its eulogies and weeping, and the terrifying silence of the mother looking down into the grave, not to think about my daughter's voice, taut and trembling on the phone. 'There was nothing left,' she says, 'just a leg, nothing else was left of her, the leg with the scar, the one she got playing soccer. Remember, Mother, how that big girl kicked her in the leg?' Her voice is high and breaking. I do not know how to comfort her. 'She'd been drinking,' my daughter says, 'and now there's nothing left of her. He is in the hospital. He's all smashed up and they haven't told him yet. They don't know if he'll live and his father is beside himself. Remember his father, the one who runs the sports store and the summer soccer camp?'
She did not say if the boy had been drinking too. I did not ask, and now it does not seem to matter. Either he will live or he will not live. If he lives, he will either blame the girl or he will blame himself, or else he will become a saint, and carefully, watchfully, for the rest of his careful, watchful, sainted life, he will blame no one. On the other hand, he may do none of this, either blame or not blame, because when his head was smashed, and his ear ripped off, and all the beautiful expensive orthodontics of his perfect American smile smashed along with his jaw, something happened to his brain... .
THE BOY AT THE NIGHTCLUB
The boy at the nightclub does not remember. He had been drinking, he says, and cannot swear the girl in the back seat of the convertible was real.
Pressed, he is certain she was there, her blond head glistening in the artificial light.
But he does not remember her inside the nightclub, or in the parking lot, although he remembers he came out to be sick.
He does not remember her opening the car door, or climbing in, although, he says, and there is fear in his eyes, she was there, she was there.
He recalls the color of her hair, how its blondness had a green cast, how it flowed around her as the car shot off, like seaweed, he says, like something swaying underwater, something tossed about and eddied by a violent current.
He has seen such things, he says, because he is a diver, had been out that very day, was caught in a rip, and, frightened, came home to have a drink.
That is how he puts it, although when he had drunk one, he drank another, and another, until the girl appeared, her skin luminous as shallow water underneath the street light and her pale hair swept about.
She turned to him, he says, and beckoned, although he cannot remember her face, he was too busy being sick.
He is weeping, and the two policemen asking him questions look at each other over his bent head, shrugging slightly, telling each other he is no good as a witness, that he was having visions, telling him sternly he was lucky not to have gone with her, lucky to have fallen face-down in an ocean of his own creation, floated until morning amongst brightly colored fishes hot as blood.
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.