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."
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
FIRST LIGHT: INTRODUCTION
FIRST LIGHT: An Introduction (Excerpts from the book will appear over the next 2 days)
This second year of NCETA’s Student Laureate Awards, we received three times as many poems as last year, from schools ranging the length of North Carolina. We found poems as good as any student work I’ve ever seen, some of it better than what I see in current literary magazines.
None of the poems in this booklet could have happened without teachers who encouraged their authors. Nor could they have happened without the engagement of parents in their children’s education. The love of language, and the light that language brings, begins early, nurtured by reading and storytelling. Strong enough, it can withstand Facebook, Twitter, and text-messaging. I’d be willing to bet that the authors of these poems don’t spend much time staring at a computer screen for social networking. I’d guess they find the world around them more interesting than cyberspace. I hope so.
As you will see, I liked so many of the poems that I couldn’t choose just one for the winning slots in the High School Division. Sarah Brady’s Vocabulary Words and Erin Walklet’s Agape were equally well-made, with a maturity of voice and perspective that couldn’t be denied. Nor could I deny the rhythmic pleasure I felt reading Courtney Duckworth’s ode to karen dalton, nor the seductive imagery of Maria Evans’ A Breath. Chelsea Hansen’s encounter in Met Death sounded like a whip cracking in my head. All five of these poems echoed in my mind for days.
So did the four Honorable Mentions. It’s easy to shrug off Honorable Mentions, I know. I often did it when I received the results from contests I’d entered. But I don’t shrug off these poems. Not Allison Kupatt’s perfectly paced Cult Classics. This poem shows a mastery of tone that a more experienced writer might envy. Rachel Thompson’s Aqua, Terra, Zephyr gives the Earth itself her voice, and Amamda Honey’s Runners makes the lines as energetic as the subjects they bring to life. And whoever thought of angels in summer cracking their knuckles with big “booms”? I couldn’t get Megan Przybyla’s angels out of my mind. Her Summertime gave me a new perspective on the season.
Thank goodness I didn’t have to brood as long over the Middle School Winners. Right away C.J. Murphy’s Where I Come From stood out for all the reasons good poetry sticks in the mind: imagery that opens up the world in which it’s set, a voice that knows how to journey through that place with knowledge and humor. Falecia Metcalf’s The Rain, by contrast, creates a private world of imagination as she listens to the rain. Finally, Allie Sekulich takes to the ice with all her senses alert and alive in On the Ice. These three Middle Schoolers are sure to be heard from again as they move through their remaining school years.
Enjoy this year’s winning poems, to be posted here over the next week. They deserve to be celebrated. They give the first light of new voices, using language to illuminate, move us, and, above all, delight us. Their work is introduced by our “warm up band,” John York, Nancy Posey, and me. John is one of our state’s finest poets. Nancy is beginning to publish her poems in various journals. And I am coming to the end of my Poet Laureate term, feeling optimistic about the future of North Carolina poetry.
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.