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.
Joyce Foster's Painted Leaves, with art by Jane Smithers, is one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen, if not THE most beautiful. It is a collaboration among Foster, Smithers, and their friend Sue Blair, who designed the book, and I must say, this collaboration has worked --to the hilt! When creative friends come together on a project, all sorts of fabulous things can happen.
I met Joyce several years back in a workshop. She had just begun to write poetry, and I could tell that she had the gift for it. Her "Imprimatur for Pleasure," was one of the first poems she showed me, so you can see why I was impressed. As she says in the Afterword, "I was in my mid-60's and looking for the courage to make a profound change in my life. Poetry, or perhaps I should say the Muse of poetry, found me. ...Now I can't imagine life without it."
Joyce was born in Oklahoma of Cherokee, English, and German stock. She graduated from Emory University with a degree in Nursing and has worked for years in Public Health, as well as training and showing Morgan horses. She also worked for awhile as a model when she lived in Florida! She lives in Cashiers, NC, with her dog Wynston.
The artist whose work illuminates these pages is Jane Smithers (www.janesmithers.com). A self-taught artist, having chosen art "relatively late in life," she has lived in New York, London, Houston, and now in Cashiers, where she paints and teaches. Visiting Jane's website is like stepping into a world vibrating with image and color.
Here, then, is a display of the pages from PAINTED LEAVES. I hope you enjoy the visual feast. This would make a lovely Mother's Day gift, by the way. I'm giving a copy to my own mother.
Here is the first poem of Joyce's that I read. (Unless you are computer-illiterate like me, you know that clicking on these images will bring the poem into larger resolution.)
And these are the paintings that illuminate the poem.
Some times I will simply let this book lie open on my table, because looking at it gives me such pleasure.
Both Joyce and Jane would agree that it's never too late, as long as one has breath, a sheet of paper (or computer screen), and paint brush, to discover the poet and artist waiting to be found within.
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.