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.
Katherine Indermaur impressed both John York, my preliminary reader, and me with "Downtown After Dark", submitted by her teacher Priscilla Chappell at Enloe High School in Raleigh last spring. We were delighted to name her our Student Poet Laureate Award winner in the inaugural contest sponsored by the North Carolina English Teachers Association. We are hoping to receive poems as fine as this one by our April 15 deadline. (See details for the NCETA submission process on the sidebar.) In the next two days I will be posting poems by Honorable Mention and Special Commendation winners, Anuja Acharya and Sarah Bruce.
As you can see from the following biography, Katherine is fascinated by many things. Including Starbucks! She continues to write now that she is a student at UNC; one of her new poems follows her prize-winning poem.
Katherine Indermaur has lived the majority of her life in Raleigh, NC with three brothers, two sisters, a dog, a cat, and several fish. Though this household wasn't exactly conducive to writing, it certainly helped with inspiration. She graduated from Enloe High School, where she was inspired and enlightened by Ms. Chappell's "Poetic Voices" elective - twice. She now attends UNC-Chapel Hill. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano, rock-climbing, writing, and taking trips to Starbucks. Some of her favorite poets are Vassar Miller, Pablo Neruda, Michael Chitwood, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Walt Whitman. She hopes to major in English with a double-minor in Creative Writing and Music.
Downtown After Dark
Hairspray, beer, hot plastic: Fabric makes sounds against our legs, rhythmic and steady like our pulses. We fall silent, listening to their laughter. The city slips into an easy slumber, a November night hibernation. Paper bag tumbleweeds scratch the asphalt, the soles of our shoes in close procession.
All is not well, you seem to say with fidgeting fingers, fumbling with car keys, metal. There is a fire escape up above, romantic in all its rusted red charm, a slinking tomcat, a glowing exit sign, backwards E. You refuse to break the heated silence, mist through our nostrils and empty mouths.
We are airy tonight, which makes us dark like the coffee I drank, so bitter you hesitated in kissing me. But you gave in; you always do. You will speak, I think.
Listen, you say, to those people, (Ha!) incredulous, your shoulders shimmying in laughter. I open my ears, tense, waiting for some hint to their vibrancy even in the dead of the night, but you have already unlocked the car - a handle offensively cold against thin fingers.
Those silhouettes in a lighted window, glasses clinking and voices rising melodiously, speak louder to me than your silence. I release the cold of the metal, take one step, and recoil into the passenger seat, away from the night's display, hard leather consciously beneath my thighs. The sky is like a bruise, purples and blues, ink - and the car soon has its own mist, speech, speeding us off into the muted senses.
(Katherine with her mother at the Awards Luncheon in Winston-Salem last fall.)
You do not even know my name But I smelled the fire and brimstone. I turned back and saw the flames.
Lot took my body and my home, Salt and ashes. Here I cringe - I am no more than my own tombstone.
Perhaps in my heart some string did twinge As I looked upon the dying flight Of souls on whose sin my fate did hinge.
I can't remember much but the sight Of ashes flitting like moths and steel Splitting the singe of Lot's prophesied light.
Before his god my blood congeals In smoky aftermath, at last, alone - A statue with enough salt to heal Anyone's wounds but my own.
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.