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, January 19, 2009
INAUGURATION Celebration with Albany State University Students
(Poet and Professor Doris Davenport in the center, flanked by performance artist Seed and celebratory students!)
Most of the time my laureate blog is devoted to North Carolina writers and events, but on this historic day, the Inauguration of our first African-American president Barack Obama, I decided to turn this post over to former NC resident and NC Arts Fellowship winner doris davenport and her students at Albany State University. I was born and raised about 25 miles down the road from Albany, so being a part of ASU's second annual Poetry Festival was like going back home.
I began my workshop with two poems by our new president, written when he was a nineteen year old college student. You may find those poems at on this blog at http://ncpoetlaureate.blogspot.com/2008/11/barack-obama-poet.html. The students jumped right into those poems, no doubt about it, and some of what came out of the afternoon's gathering follows.
(Professor Davenport applauding her students!)
From Dr. Doris Davenport, Professor of English, Albany State University:
“Night Soil of Dream” Poetry Workshop Poems* led by Kathryn Stripling Byer 13 November 2008 2nd Annual Poetry Festival, Albany State University, Albany GA
(Festival Display at Library where the workshop was held.)
(* In a well-attended workshop of at least 35 students, all of them created poems in the two hour workshop, using the prompts of two poems by President-Elect Barack Obama. Of that number, at least twelve read in the Performance segment that night. And of that twelve, here are some of the poems written and submitted.)
Our first young poet is Shawn Sessions. He was the first student brave enough to read what he had written in his small group. Right away, I knew we were going to hear some fabulous poetry before the workshop was over. Shawn is a young man with a whole lot of talent.
UNDERGROUND by Shawn Sessions
Tossing and toiling as the water drowns my feet, I feel the wind lifting my worries away. As I crash and burn, these feelings churn through my body, teasing me. Relieving my soul, this darkness asks me, “Can you stay a little longer?” And though I would love to say yes, I regretfully turn away cause I know daylight is on its way. As my alarm clock echoes loudly, I open my eyes as if being born for the first time, Hello, my name is Shawn!
Quavis Carter's impassioned poems, read with real urgency, stirred my emotions and made me realize yet again how powerful an event the election President Obama was, and will continue to be, to these students.
Two by Quavis Carter
Neva thought I’d be at ASU better yet any college I mean I always had good sense and book knowledge Back then all I wanted was a fancy car with big rims Now I take up time reading and studying for exams. I have matured a lot maybe bcuz of my age I’m still young times changed and Mr. Carter has turned da page.
We were chosen 2 be slaves bcuz we were stronger than others We make the best athletes & black women make the best mothers Many black ppl won freedom & one black man won an election So if you’re black look in the mirror & be proud of your skin complexion Back many years ago we were on the plantation Now they have HBCU’s* and we can earn education I don’t care what anybody say we have come along Want me 2 prove it Nov. 4 2008 remember that day.
(*Historically Black Colleges & Universities)
--------------------------------------------------- Cassandra Starr nearly moved me to tears as she read "Tapestry." In it you can hear echoes of President Obama's poem about his grandfather. Cassandra is clearly a poet, and I hope she will continue to follow that calling.
(Cassandra Starr, second from right, and friends)
"Tapestry" by Cassandra Starr
Locks of hair lengthy, salt and pepper colored, sitting on the cerulean couch firmly planted in the middle of the living room, in front of a painting of a flower that reminds me of her, stunning, similar to the petals of a flower, for she has many layers, mother, caregiver, quilter. While sitting firmly on the couch, I see her hands, fragile, small, worn from years of work sewing, sewing various pieces signifying history, for I am a mirror image of her, she is . . . grandmother, binder of my family’s tapestry.
------------------- What to say about Maggie Emily? She's a spectacular emcee, as she proved earlier at the morning session of readings by faculty and students. AND he's a promising poet. Maggie, I would guess, could be just about anything she chooses to be.
"Pull Back" by Maggie Emily
The thin sheets, icy stacked smartly against the thumping warm whole hold whole cordial cold, hello “wonderful, and you?” we smile, or mouths do - eyes glossy stare - somehow the image through the glass (filtered image) is distorted you - I loves-hates hot cold I cannot feel the difference (trying to) pull back I rush (trying to ) forward (trying to) pull back I rush (trying to ) forward the shattering sheets split and under the pressure they dissipate
----------------------- Tiarra Mitchell is a firecracker! If you could hear her read the poem below, you'd know what I mean. The rhythm of this poem is irresistable. She blew me away!
(Tiarra Mitchell, foreground, with friend)
glistening beautifully I, I, I, I... feel... she pounding, throbbing, hanging in... flowing down fluidity speaks turquoise skies she flutters, flies, flagellant singing... "I bust the windows out your car" highlighted anger damn..ummm...ummm..good.. addicted, trembling YELLING, HELP REScue me...please hangover of juicy love that it..that she..that we..that I us,we,she come together STOP breathing...life ambiguity with tongue loaded, softly, moist feelings, dry dreams leave, leave, leave me be, being, being a new woman... today, today...I am you only beep beep, beep beep loud whispers, slow whispers, no whispers no talk just you those eyes that glare that feelings, so natural, that way I, I, I, I, I,....feel
(Performance Poet "Seed," who led a multi-genre workshop during the festival) ----------------------------
"Geno" won my heart with this poem, and not only because it has one of my favorite foods, salmon croquettes, in it. This poem shows how powerful names can be for a writer.
"Maria and Laura" by Wilbur E. “Geno” Jordan, Jr.
I do love the two names Marian and Laura . . . and most people with those names. These two names make me think of hot homemade vegetable soup on a cold day and catered Thanksgiving dinners for 25. They bring lace overlay and pearl strands to mind. The two, Marian and Laura, Wylie and Hart, Stokes and Jones, Bishop Allen and John Wesley, hymns and jazz, salmon croquets with grits and Special K with fruit. The loved of my life . . . Marian and Laura, my grandmothers.
(Wilbur E. “Geno” Jordan, Jr.)
Mr. Daniel Forsythe gave us a poem full of good sounds and raw emotion--t(he mind leaks (great image) and the heart fills}. I loved listening to this one!
Two by Daniel Forsythe
(1) Laughing, yeah laughing At you, laughing because You don’t get me Laughing & smiling All because of you.
The love that’s lost The desires gone While the embers burn bright For the love I lost
Moving through All the pain The subtle feeling When I hear her name The love that’s lost
The sun shines But is much dimmer The moon is bright But not as bright as nights I remember The love that’s lost
The soul grows weak The body pursues The mind leaks And the heart fills With the blues The love I lost
Love me tender, love me right But the love is lost, tonight.
-------------------------------------------- JUST HANGIN' OUT AFTER THE WORKSHOP, and POSING FOR THE CAMERA, TOO:
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.