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, February 2, 2009
POET OF THE WEEK: REBECCA PIERRE
I met Rebecca Pierre several years ago when I was invited to read at North Carolina State University and judge their annual poetry competition for NC residents. Her poem was clearly at the top of my judge's list, and I awarded it first place, a tie with another poem that I had found worthy. As it turned out, this poem had only a few days before been accepted for publication by a journal, thus eliminating it from consideration. Rebecca came to my reading, though, and we have been in contact, off and on, for quite a few years. I admire her poetry for its visual and musical effects. Her book, A MYSTERY OF MOON, was published in 2006 by Main Street Rag Press and was selected to reside in the NC Historical Archives at UNC Chapel Hill.
Rebecca lives, writes and plays in the clay on Oak Island, NC where the sea is her muse. She settled there after living many lives mostly in the eastern US. An accomplished Clay Artist, she is addicted to pots, poetry and the poetry of pots. Through the years she has received numerous awards for her poetry as well as a grant for a week-long workshop at Wild Acres in NC and one for a month-long residency at The Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT. Her poetry has been published in such publications as: Asheville Poetry Review, Wellspring, The Cancer Poetry Project, The Peralta Press, Lullwater Review, NCPS Pinesong Awards, Of Frogs and Toads, Illya’s Honey and others. She hopes that her words will touch a place in you that may have remained untouched without them. An ambitious dream, but one that she carries in her heart always.
As a Southeastern NC writer she was interviewed by an MFA student and a DVD of that interview now resides in perpetuity and available to be viewed by any interested party in the William Morrison Randall Library Special Collections Archives at UNC Wilmington.
A piece of her clay art titled 'Licorice Twist' (see below) was chosen for 'The Power of Art: Preserving the History of the Fine Art Community in Southeastern North Carolina' and remains on display in the William Morrison Randall Library at UNC Wilmington.
------------------------------ For for this feature I have interwoven images of Rebecca's pottery with her poetry. Enjoy the poetic and visual treasures in this post.
The first three are from a series Rebecca calls "Beach Walks" that she hopes to publish with paintings. May she find a publisher for it soon!
The beach is empty this morning. Wild waves stir up seafoam like soapsuds that cling to the tideline in clumps. Clouds, gray pillows, smother the sun. Houses are painted derelict by mist. No wonder laughing seagulls share a joke. No wonder millions of tiny pieces of seashells whisper underfoot, This is our eternity. This is the world as it was in the beginning, before I set foot upon the sand. This is the world as it will be in the end, still turning and singing its song.
A leisurely walk. A lone sandpiper skitters constantly, seeking food. To avoid my advance she moves quickly away, Not heading toward the beach but toward incoming waves. My breath catches for an instant before I realize she is smarter than I. She knows she must merely lift her wings and fly. I must remember that I have wings.
(SAGO PALM LEAF VESSEL)
And on the way home, as I pass Heron Lookout, I catch a glimpse through tall marsh grasses of a Great Blue Heron perched atop a birdhouse in the canal. I step gently forward for a closer look but her keen eyes, born to catch the tiniest movement, catch mine. She lets out a cry that sounds like the breaking of a branch, spreads her glorious wings and carries my soul with her, sailing low over the water then swooping up to her nest in a tree.
This hammock, connecting tree to tree, becomes a suspension bridge for ants who travel the rope that borders the edge. Focused, they never lose their way, never deviate into the web of highways, the tempting byways of the green knotted network that forms the bed. While live oak branches bow in an elegant sweep to the ground, pieces of sky hide among the leaves overhead. A blue jay startles herself by landing too close to the hammock. A mockingbird, so enraptured by his own song, lifts straight up from a fence post at intervals in his singing. A grey squirrel sits in a patch of sun, holds a toadstool in her paws, turning it with her delicate fingers as she eats her way around the edge. This is the business of the world. Our business is not to miss it.
John’s Island, SC
Early Sunday morning, walking to the pond, suddenly I stop.
Upwind, a cougar, tawny and sleek, regal head raised searching for a scent on the air.
I think of the leopard lying in the painting that hung above the fireplace in a house I once called home. A place I left like the cougar leaves gliding through long grass as if she had never been there.
( LICORICE TWIST)
WALKING THE WALK
All day it rains as if the sorrow is too much to bear without weeping skies. Finally, they walk out together let the rain wet their hair, their clothes, and still they walk knowing walking is not enough, nor is crying, nor talk of the past, the uncertain future. Knowing that they must each put one foot in front of the other, going apart, coming together, going a bit farther, coming together, until their walking takes them beyond return.
(LARGE TWISTED VESSEL)
THOUGH I KNOW IT ISN’T SO...
I like to imagine the potter at her wheel slamming the clay down onto the wheel-head, bending forward, her elbows locked against her knees, eyes closed to better feel the centering. The clay, dug from the earth, wet with water, spinning in her hands to a burnished ball, the precise size to fit smoothly in the cup of my hip where it glides with each step, with each movement of my leg. A ceramic ball fired expertly to the perfect temperature so that the surgeon cannot help but turn it in his hands, admiring the artistry that combined with his skill, will make me pain-free and whole again.
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.