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."
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
ALL THAT IS LEFT, by Judith Harway
Although this blog is devoted for the most part to North Carolina Writers and Books, I'm featuring a new book by a friend of mine who has poetic ties to the state by way of her friendship with me, Susan Lefler, and Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin. Susan and Jeannette have had their poetry featured on our ncarts.org site in the past. The four of us came together through the Hambdige Center for the Creative Arts in Rabun Gap, Georgia. Judith and I worked as workshop leaders there for two summers, with Susan in attendance. Susan in turn pulled Jeannette into our circle of friends, and we have stayed in touch ever since.
Near the end of May Judith read from her new book at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva. We all gathered for the occasion; the reading was mesmerizing and the discussion wide-ranging. Here are the four friends afterward.
(Jeannette, Susan, Judith, and me)
The haunting story of flight and arrival in Judith Harway's All That Is Left reminds us of the dire, even deadly, choices that history can thrust upon innocent people: "A journey starts/when it is time to go." Harway's poems trace, in memorable terms, the impact of large historical currents on the lives of individuals.
Testimonials for All That Is Left:
“All families, as Judith Harway knows, are haunted. We’re haunted by the ghosts of ancestors who, in turn, are dreaming of us, their descendants. In this elegiac suite of poems, Harway captures the delicate threads that bind these two worlds, lost to each other. It’s a stunning work that will pierce your heart.”—Joseph Skibell
“Judith Harway’s ALL THAT IS LEFT gathers a family’s history into poetry, right down to the least detail—the scrap of cabbage left in the soup pot, the almost fleeting imprint of a night’s waking dream, the various misunderstandings and connections that can haunt or nourish for a lifetime. Throughout this book, the longing for what Barry Lopez calls the ‘spine of narrative’ holds the poetry true to what it means to be an inhabitant of a particular place where one’s connections to history tangle and transform. Family, the inner and outer journeys of its members, and the expectations and responsibilities it places upon those members, remains a living source in these poems. Through them what is left is the human story. The ongoing song of survival.”—Kathryn Stripling Byer
“‘We die as many times as we close our eyes on memory’ reads an epigraph in Judith Harway’s wonderful new book All That is Left, and I’m grateful Harway does not close her eyes on memory. In these richly detailed and languaged poems of family and memory, history provides setting, imagery, gossip, terrors, and music... In one of the ‘Last Words’ poems, the grandfather says, ‘What the Torah asks of us is that we mouth each word as if our lives hang on it.’ Judith Harway’s poems do just that.”—Susan Firer
“Judith Harway’s All That Is Left is a mystic seance with poetry as medium bringing back the spirits of her Jewish lineage and those murdered in the Holocaust, honoring and incarnating them in her own being—the lives they lived, the love they felt—and in the process coming to terms with her Jewish identity. Her book shines like a Shabbat candle between the dark of history and an uncertain future.”—Antler
Judith Harway’s poetry has appeared in dozens of literary journals, as well as in The Memory Box, a chapbook published by Zarigueya Press in 2002. Her work has earned fellowships from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the Hambidge Center and the MacDowell Colony. She is on the faculty of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
ISBN 978-1934999523, 104 pages, $18.00
Judith's book may be found at Barnes & Noble, Powell's, and Amazon online.
POEMS FROM THE COLLECTION
Before the Pogrom
Early spring. A dark room lit by candles. Children on the floor before a smoky hearth, toes of their shoes cut off for growing. Smells of soup and cabbage, damp socks hung to dry. Straw mattresses piled high with winter quilts. Outside, a shawl of rain drawn over evening’s face. Flocks of goats lie huddled on the leaky sod of rooftops, handcarts turning home down muddy lanes. A gathering of relatives who stare into the slow shutter of history, afraid to move.
At Pesach the Haggadah tells us of a time of bondage, of the flight of the Israelites from Egypt into the wilderness of freedom. Plagues rained on the land. The hand of the Almighty smote even babies dead. This is the way I understand the day my grandmother’s family left Meskaporichi: there never was a choice: A journey starts when it is time to go.
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.