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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Poets of the Week: Rebecca and Joshua James



(REBECCA AND JOSHUA JAMES)

Josh James and Becky Hallman sat at the end of the table in the poetry workshop I led during my Rivers-Coffey Residency at Appalachian State in the fall of '06. Neither said much during the first weeks, but that didn't mean they were not paying attention. As you can see from the two poems below, they've been paying attention all of their lives. Josh turned in playful, ironic poems that I sometimes couldn't figure out, and Becky offered us intense, allusive, sometimes erotic poems that gave a glimpse of the creativity underneath her reserved exterior. I came to know them better when they stopped by my cottage in Blowing Rock several times during the term. We talked about all sorts of things, including poetry. Those were among my favorite times while at ASU. In the winter of '07, they got married, and after their graduation, I lost touch with them. I knew Becky was planning on working toward an MFA in writing from Queens University in Charlotte while Josh joined the military, but I had no idea what had been happening until a letter from them arrived before Christmas. The biography gives a brief summation of their professional lives to date. I'm proud of Josh for blazing new trails at Anson High, as well as in his own poetry. Becky likes living in their old farmhouse surrounded by fields. I think you can see the influence of this in her poem.
Two special people. North Carolina is lucky to have them!
___________________
Joshua and Rebecca James met in the creative writing program at Appalachian State University and are celebrating their second wedding anniversary. Joshua teaches English composition and is yearbook advisor at Anson High School in Wadesboro, North Carolina. There, he has co-founded the school's first literary club and organized an annual talent show and poetry slam hosted by a popular Charlotte DJ. Rebecca is currently completing her MFA in creative writing at Queens University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Iodine Poetry Journal, Blue Collar Review, Sounds of the Night, Hurricane Review and Main Street Rag. Joshua and Rebecca live in Morven, NC with their two cats.




static



there is no snow –

you do not see

the ice-white lichen

lattices of purée

atmosphere ending



in mesh-wet pores or

tongues and one would

think of the delicacies



these could land on

the small of a woman,

her back glittered

with filaments of

golden semicircles



eyelashes of newborns

or the breath mint left

last summer in the yard



that stews in the heat

and sniggers in winter,

the breath of burrows

tantamount to a wasp

with frozen wings

--------Joshua James







Eastbound



I have lived in the mountains,
the metropolis piedmont,
and now the sandhills.
All with you.

Last year we brought with us

the spoils of big box bookstores
and a frosting of Appalachian snow.

Today, the wild onions

and daffodils in our yard
do indeed grow through sand.


Perhaps we will make it to the coastal plain
on our slow crawl toward the sunrise,

toward the sea—the hinged clamshell
of you and me teeming with life.


Rebecca James

2 comments:

Lynn Hamilton Rutherford said...

These are so good and so unique and vivid! I need to read Joshua's again ... SUCH depth I can't wrap my head around it before my coffee, but I LOVE his style! An Becky has a jewel here too! Anyone who mentions a bookstore in a piece of poetry gets MY vote!! Love these two! Glad you mentioned them!!!

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Lynn, you are right! These two young poets are well worth reading. Josh's poem is sorta different from the ones he turned in when he was in my/our workshop. I like the lush/teasing/go for broke language and imagery. Becky's is also different from her workshop poems. I love them both--poems and poets. Teeming with life! Yes, indeed.