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.
(Billy Edd Wheeler / "Coon Creek Girls and Billy Edd" (Rosie Foley and Lily Man Pennington; from a photograph by Warren Brunner)oil, 16" x 20", 2002)
SHENANDOAH is probably my favorite literary magazine. Its editor, R.T. Smith,is a friend from way, way back and one of the country's finest poets. He's also a fiction writer worth reading, too. The magazine always has his Editor's Note at the end, this issue's piece titled "Heart and Coal: An Appreciation." As Rod describes it, "It's about coal mining, songs about the people and specifically about Kathy Mattea's album Coal."
This Spring/Summer issue is a reader's dream. How could it be otherwise with the lead-off story being one by Lee Smith? Maxine Kumin gives us an essay, "Swift to Its Close," and the list of poets ranges from Richard Foerster to Hanes Eason, with David Wagoner, Elton Glaser, James Malone Smith, and Kathryn Kirkpatrick, among others, in between. Yes, there are book reviews, too, and an interview with Dominica Radulescu by Sarah Kennedy, herself an outstanding poet. To see the entire table of contents, as well as read excerpts from earlier issues, go to www.shenandoah.wlu.edu.
After you visit the website, SUBSCRIBE. OUR LITERARY MAGAZINES NEED OUR SUPPORT.
Kathryn Kirkpatrick has long been a poet whose work I've admired; I'm happy to present her poem from this current issue, "After the Cave Paintings" below.
After the Cave Paintings
Why do I stand unmoved, jaded as a tabloid, refusing astonishment, not down on my knees, but sober as stone— surely 17th century spelunkers, pranksters, or WWII resistance fighters passing hours in the belly of the mountain made these bison, these bearded horses.
But carbon dating brings me to my senses. Whatever I can’t take in—1500 generations, 32,000 years— here’s human memory on the horns of an ibis, our ancestors making it up from scratch. Is it all too near to where I’ve been? Birth & Death. Back and forth across that stuttering line, illness a long darkness with only a lantern and my love’s strong arm, the uneven, the unearthly underfoot.
Stalactites make their own sense of water and limestone as I’m to make something wholly new from the dripstone of another life.
Just as well we’re not as firmly anchored as we think. In the thinned air, the wavering light, easier to find that other self, who knows as the animal knows, as the bears in these caves once knew, standing upright on the old riverbed, so daughters of Adam, sons of Eve, took up what the bears laid down, dark claw on limestone, and drew.
Kathryn teaches poetry, Irish Studies, and environmental literature at Appalachian State University. Her most recent book is Out of the Garden (Mayapple, 2007)
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.