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."
Friday, July 3, 2009
NEWSWEEK FEATURES OUR U.S. POET LAUREATE!
Amazing news! This week's NEWSWEEK has a long article on our current Poet Laureate Kay Ryan. (www.newsweek.com/id/204212) It's well-done and introduces readers to a poet with whom I now feel quite a few connections. Although our poetic styles are different, I found myself drawn to her story of teaching for 30 years in an out-of-the way community college and her struggles to get her work published and noticed. We are the same age, too. She published her first works herself, as did I (Search Party and Alma).
I can count on the fingers of one hand the poetry reviews in NEWSWEEK over the many years I've subscribed. Why not drop the magazine an email telling them to give poetry more of attention? The Ryan article has a link to a piece about how poetry has lost readership in the past few years. Maybe one reason is the lack of notice given it by our magazines and newspapers? Listen up, NEWSWEEK.
Here are some quotes from the article by Louisa Thomas. ------------------ Ryan has long had an ambivalent relationship with exposure, and she has always resisted change. "I'm eager for stasis," she says, "because I can count on its being disrupted." While some poets thrive on the drama of their own experience and others want to capture the cacophonous world, Ryan probes the cracks and edges in her mind. Out of those crevices, the disruptions in a quiet life, come her poems.
There are high places that don't invite us, sharp shapes, glacier- scraped faces, whole ranges whose given names slip off. Any such relation as we try to make refuses to take. Some high lakes are not for us, some slick escarpments. I'm giddy with thinking where thinking can't stick.
-------- At one point Ryan described the words in a poem as a loose net around a swimming fish, invisible except in the flash of its turn. The fish—the secret life—is at once caught and free. "You have to feel that you haven't solved" a poem, she explains. "It refreshes you to return to it. That's a very strange thing about a poem." It can be frustrating, of course, to finish reading and realize you've just begun. Poetry is resistant. In a culture in which the "take-away" is paramount, poetry gives nothing away. You have to look past whatever the poem seems "about" to see what it is. "It's what we can't/know that interests/us," Ryan writes in "Absences and Breaks."
---------- "To read a poem is to be, I don't know, relieved of oneself to some degree," Ryan says. "One of the main things that poetry does is make you feel looser and larger … It does offer us a kind of mental freedom." No sooner has she said this, though, than she catches herself expounding on capital-P Poetry and begins to laugh. Mentioning an article in which the poet Philip Larkin discussed the "importance" of poetry, she cites his response: "My answer is no more valuable than if you asked a beaver about dams." As a friend noted on the back of her self-published volume: writing poetry is just what she does.
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.