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."
Thursday, June 4, 2009
TWO ESTATES, by David Rigsbee
Last month I received a letter from David Rigsbee. His friend Shelby Stephenson had suggested he write me about his new book. Although I've never met David, I know that he is a prolific and splendid poet. That he reviews regularly for the online journal The Cortland Review, that he has traveled widely---. But there is so much more to know about David Rigsbee, and if you go to his website, you will begin to see what I mean.
And if you google him, you will find interviews and all sorts of interesting items to keep you locked to your computer screen for all of an evening, if not longer. I encourage you to do so!
(David Rigsbee, Paris, 2004)
David, who teaches at Mount Olive College in Mounta Olive, NC, has a new book out from Cherry Grove Collections, and this is what the editor of the series as to say about his work: The elegant poems of David Rigsbee’s Two Estates evoke landscape and history, art and memory, in densely sculpted lines:
David is the author of six previous collections, including Cloud Journal (Turning Point Books, 2008) and The Dissolving Island (BkMk Press, 2003). His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The New Yorker, The Ohio Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review, and many others. He is the recipient of grants and awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Virginia Commission on the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and The Academy of American Poets.
(David with his daugter Makaiya Bullitt-Rigsbee in Washington, DC, 2001)
Here are a few poems from Two Estates.
On his birthday, my father the idea greets my mother the flesh in a dream. My father the stone draws me up a foreign hill where a keyhole focuses an arbor on a basilica in which he will not be found or remembered. My father the wind gives my face what is denied both the foot and the mind, sweeping its words with a hand broom, among which will be found, like a nugget, his caesura. Then I pause, drawing breath, and walk to the ledge where my father the evening greets me in the darkening branches of a pine.
At Todi Clouds merge with stone. Pigeons grip moss that trims the stone. As hard as their roots, trees rise like statues, and the grass they dapple in the short run the hills pick up as an effect, and spread. At a curve’s far reach, you meet a shrine placed by shrewd peasants to defeat expectation: energies are already transforming hard trees into their harmless shadows.
A standard dove would gargle all day, gnats dangle their pulsing clusters like water-balloons. And the ground be overrun with ants and scarabs rearranging the earth. Figs about to touch ground from the most extended branch would note how the necropolis corrects dissolution with architecture. How domes rewrite hills, and fields, grown and cut, reduce the river’s pull where gravity is quietest and most conspiratorial, a drift content that a single painter restore it from allegory to realism. Clouds would process their variations across the countryside all day. What both bird and butterfly did would go by the same name. And that ecstasy pouring from the stone would pass through wheat’s variations, when the mower appeared mounting the hill, its red dome and puff of smoke so like the scythes of the painters.
Into the Wall An anvil-shaped cloud spreads its iron shadow across the hill adjacent to our town. As on a floor viewed upside down, other clouds, in turn, suggest figures of the moment, requiring only the arrival of the next bit of future to cancel the suggestion. The struggle is ancient: clouds’ agon drives the painter into the wall, attempting impossible compressions proper to time beyond a lifetime. Here, where the sound of a scooter merges with a wasp’s nest, a pack of flies beats up a swallow— until the next frame. Or the classical head turns with its look of a god disappearing into time: things are as they are, turning in middle air, and as they will be, emerging from the rock.
The stones they shouldered above stay above: their quarters are still the plain, impersonally stuccoed flats snail-clustered across the valley. They know up always ended where a campanile diffused sound and figure meant to charm God, or else to arrest Him. The faces are familiar: Mussolini had one—and Gramsci— below-wall faces atop solid, compact builds. Today the sky is repeating something about its clouds, how they were one stimulus for the adulation of the flesh, for Fra Angelico’s heaven-limiting bodies. Any heaven from this moment takes on the likeness of bodies who passed from the labors demanded of stones, and rose again, matching hills in whose folds and valleys swallows making their barrel-and-rollout menace the tassled wheat.
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.