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Sunday, August 2, 2009

POET OF THE WEEK: RUTH MOOSE



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.

--Robert Morgan



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.

--Sally Buckner



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.

10 comments:

Redheaded Stepchild said...

How wonderful to read Ruth's work. Thanks for sharing these. At the conference, Ruth read several of the librarian poems. Not only is she a gifted writer, she's an amazing friend to other writers. As you know, she's been a generous mentor to me. Thanks Kay for celebrating her!

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

It’s not that I don’t want to as I’d love to leave a comment about Ruth. Her voice has soul – plus she’s one fantastic editor! I went to your blog site but couldn’t find a place to leave a comment. (As you might guess, I’m not into blogging!) If you don’t mind, would you just add the above for me?

Thanks!

Mignon

www.mignonballard.com

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thanks, Malaika and Mignon,
I'm glad I was finally able to get Ruth up on the blog. I've been sluggish lately re blogging; maybe the summer heat/rain? Who knows? But I hope to keep this blog going with at least one entry per week.
Mignon, I'm sorry you couldn't find a way to leave a comment. That's happened to me, too, with various blogs. Who knows why? The gods of blogdom are capricious! I'm happy to post your reponse under my own imprint, or whatever you call it.
K.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I enjoyed Ruth's poetry on your blog, Kay. I will have to order her book. I've never met Ruth, but hope to one day. I've read her work and heard so much about her from Nancy Simpson.
She selected fiction for our last Netwest anthology, Lights in the Mountains, and one of her stories appeared in the book. Her poetry really speaks to me.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

I absolutely love Ruth Moose's poetry. I had a chance to study under her at the John C. Campbell Folk School a few years ago. Ruth was a wonderful teacher. I would love to take another class under her. I had so much fun in her class.

Jessie Carty said...

another book for me to pick up at main street rag! :)

Clay Carmichael said...

I've enjoyed visiting Ruth's UNC classes in writing for children and look forward to reading this collection.

Pat Workman said...

Oh yeah, great poetry this! The kind I enjoy reading and rereading.

Susan Meyers said...

I loved hearing Ruth read from The Librarian recently. The room was electric. If you have a chance to hear her, by all means don't miss it!

Pat Riviere-Seel said...

Ruth's book is amazing. After hearing her read I went home and read it straight through - couldn't put it down.