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.
Four years ago Fred Chappell sent me a beautiful broadside of The Foreseeing, telling me that it was a new kind of poem he was now exploring, the "embedded poem," or a poem within a poem, and that it was devilishly difficult. In this poem, the voice of the woman is embedded in that of her partner, who is beginning to realize that she is in love again. The two voices work with and against each other, forming a whole. Call it poetic counterpoint. The "inlaid" poem. Better yet, call it stunning, an enviable achievement.
Now these poems, at which Fred has been working since The Foreseeing, have been gathered into a new collection from LSU Press: its title appropriately enough is SHADOW BOX. Last night, August 7, at City Lights Books in Sylva, NC Fred read from SHADOW BOX, with his wife Susan presenting the woman's voice in the poems. The two of them gave a haunting, at times beguiling, performance.
(Joyce Moore introduces Fred to the audience in the bookstore's Regional Room.)
Spotlight The hamlet sleeps under November stars. Only the page of numerate thought toils through The darkness, shines on the table where, askew And calm, the scholar's lamp burns bright and scars The silence, sending through the slot, the bars And angles of his window square, a true Clean ray, a shaft of patient light, its purview Lonely and remote as the glow of Mars.
Brian's wife, the poet Catherine Carter, gets acquainted with Dana Wildsmith, who drove several hours from Georgia to be with Fred and Susan. Catherine's first book, The Memory of Gills, won the Roanoke-Chowan Award two years ago and was highly praised by none other than---Fred Chappell.
Dana Wildsmith, a long-time friend of the Chappell's, has published several collections of poetry, as well as numerous essays, the most recent being in The Sun, published out of Chapel Hill. She lives in Bethlehem, Georgia.
Fred will be on hand for the NC Literary Festival in Chapel Hill in September, as well as at the Smoky Mountain Bookfair in November, to name just a few opportunities for hearing him and Susan read from his new book. This new collection by the author Lee Smith calls our "resident genius," deserves all the readers it can get!
City Lights contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: (828) 586-9499 web: http://www.citylightsnc.com
Ruth Moose was this year's Honoree at the North Carolina Writers Conference, the yearly summer gathering of North Carolina Writers. Ruth was toasted, praised, and thanked for the many years she has given so much to the state's literary community. Many of us remember her editorship of The Uwharrie Review, as well as her current work as poetry editor of The Rambler. Her own work as poet and fiction writer spans many years. Here's a cyber toast to Ruth. Thank you for all you've done for our state's cultural and literary life!
Ruth Moose has been on the faculty since 1996. She has published 2 collections of short stories, 4 books of poetry. Individual stories appeared in Atlantic, Redbook, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review and other places. Her work has been included in several anthologies, including Stories about Teachers and Teaching. Her poems have appeared in The Nation, Prairie Schooner, Yankee, Christian Science Monitor and other places. Most recently she was awarded a Chapman Fellowship to compile a work on North Carolina writers. This summer she was in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Glen Workshop, St. John's College.
Ruth's new collection of poems, The Librarian, is now available from Main Street Rag Press. Price: $14. Go to www.mainstreetrag.com/RMoose_2.html.
Praise for THE LIBRARIAN:
Ruth Moose's spare lyrical language dramatizes the search for significant acts, the spark of connections made.
If this collections does nothing else, it will forever erase our stereotype of a librarian (prim spinster always with finger to lips shushing all sound from her immaculate, silent headquarters.) This librarian is fully woman, fully alive, and not only tolerating the words of others, but speaking out herself with verve and courage. Always hovering at her shoulder is the spirit of HWLWG--He Who Left Without Goodbye. You'll weep, chuckle and cheer as this gutsy woman deals with bits of her daily life--and those bits produced in Moose's exact language, shimmer with new significance.
Ruth Moose's poems have always been grounded in a certainty that gives every line its profound authority--that where we live and how we live matter more than anything else, that "here" is where the mystery resides, each detail of it claiming its rightful place in the scheme of the poem, in the narrative of our lives.
--Kathryn Stripling Byer
The Librarian The Librarian
The Librarian has a cat. Of course. What did you expect?” A pit bull? Though her cat, Percy Has the personality of a pit bull. Loves to bare his teeth, always Takes her best And favorite chair, refuses to move. Hisses when she approaches. Yesterday, she beat him to it, Sat down to a damp and wet Hairball, dark, fuzzy and disgusting Which she promptly flushed, Then aired the cushion. Meanwhile, Percy washed his paws with a spiteful Grin sitting on the flagstone hearth Before her unlit gas logs. What Did you expect here? A cozy Little fire in her cozy little house? Not her. Not here. She pours Herself a glass of Jim Beam, Never sherry. Jim is her guy At the hell end of a hell day.
The Librarian Stops by the Flower Shop
She buys herself an orchid. The shape of the petals is vulvardian. (A word she just made up.) She admires how orchid blossoms Open themselves to life, to light. The color of this orchid, a shinning Purple/mauve is one she’d like To become. To open her own parts Out like that. She’d like to be As vibrant as a shout, a holy, happy Color. Phalenopsis, friend of the butterfly, the bee, exotic as a bird in this bland landscape of a plainly lived life where she is black and white print among the pages, naked between the lines.
The Duct Men
The duct cleaners came in a white van painted with “Miracle” in red. They hoisted, hauled, clanked a machine big as a Volkswagen up my stairs and down.
They snaked a hose, stuffed with bristles round and round thirty-five feet to the furnace below. I heard years of accumulated dust and dirt and everything that fell through the grids, go into the stomach of that growling machine. It hummed as it ate the residue of the librarian who lived here before us, who entertained foxes in the attic, raccoons in the den, an opossum in the bath until she found her true love on line and fled this house to live in bliss in Kentucky.
Here too, was the residue of the Optometrist who painted all the kitchen walls black, the downstairs bath dark brown. I wondered if these duct cleaners saw what wallpaper would do? Did do? Of course not.
They only kept cleaning out cobwebs, mold, pet fur, dust mites and maybe even the last miniscule remains of the husband I had.
How Many Widows Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?
One to recognize the bulb is dead. Two to determine no one is coming to change it. Three to find the replacement bulb. Four to unscrew the old one, hands shaking all the while not knowing if the electricity is on. Worry the old bulb will shatter in their fingers. Five to put the new one in. Six to flip the switch, relieved to see the light come on. All the widows in the world forever standing in a line reach the moon and back and none of them, Andromache, Ophelia, Helen (for awhile), can explain why the light went out and where the source of it lives.
Laundry by Ruth Moose
All our life so much laundry; each day’s doing or not comes clean, flows off and away to blend with other sins of this world. Each day begins in new skin, blessed by the elements charged to take us out again to do or undo what’s been assigned. From socks to shirts the selves we shed lift off the line as if they own a life apart from the one we offer. There is joy in clean laundry. All is forgiven in water, sun and air. We offer our day’s deeds to the blue-eyed sky, with soap and prayer, our arms up, then lowered in supplication.
Reprinted from Making the Bed, Main Street Rag Press, 2004, by permission of the author.
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.