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.

HERE, WHERE I AM HAS BEEN NAMED ONE OF THE 30 BEST POETRY BLOGS.

How a Poem Happens: http://www.howapoemhappens.blogspot.com/

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, February 12, 2010

NEW POET LAUREATE CROWNED

(At the state Capitol with Linda Carlisle, Head of the Dept. of Cultural Resources, and new Poet Laureate Cathy Smith Bowers)


On Wednesday Feb. 10, Cathy Smith Bowers was officially installed as North Carolina Poet Laureate. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xAk6fOzaNE )I was delighted to place the laurel wreath on her head. My Lasso blog will now be archived here, so please visit it as often as you wish. The NC Arts Council will be setting up its own laureate website soon and will link to this blog.

Thank you for visiting this blog. Please visit my other blog now--Here, Where I Am, where I will be now and then featuring poets and new books from NC and elsewhere.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

MOUNT JEFFERSON POETS--A CELEBRATION


(Photo by Ranger Thomas Randolph, Mount Jefferson State Natural Area--
http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/moje/main.php )




What every mountain needs is young poets like the ones below to celebrate it every year! Mount Jefferson is one lucky mountain. Thanks to Mount Jefferson State Natural Area and Park, it has a program designed to encourage students who live nearby to write poems about it, and it has Ranger Thomas Randolph, who is devoted to keeping this program going. Just look at Ranger Tom's face in these photos! He's loving every second of it. He's proud of these young students and proud of their accomplishments.


If you go to an earlier blog post you will find the poets I chose in last summer's poetry contest, along with the history of this program--http://ncpoetlaureate.blogspot.com/2009/07/young-poets-celebrate-mount-jefferson.htmlNow, we celebrate Mount Jefferson's younger poets in grades Kindergarten-6, divided into two categories K-3 and 4-6. The theme was Mount Jefferson's seasons. I had a terrible time splitting hairs among these poems. I stood at my kitchen counter shuffling and re-shuffling poems. So many good ones! How could I choose? Here are my choices, along with photos of the poets. Congratulations to all of them.

And thank you teachers, students, and Ranger Tom for your good work in the name of NC's natural treasures and its poetry.


Addie Fairchild's poem in the voice of Mt. Jefferson right away caught my eye. I'll be honest--it was a toss-up between her excellent poem and Brianna McCoy's "Mount Jefferson Nature." Both had great images. Zachary Richards' "Mt. Jefferson's Bobcat" also thrilled me. It gave me goosebumps! Well, I even burned lunch while reading all these poems. That's what poetry does to you. Forget about multi-tasking while you are reading it. You have to give your heart and soul to it, all your attention.





I FEEL THE SEASONS (first place) This kind of poem is difficult to pull off, speaking as a non-human object or animal. She makes it work!



The trees that cover me are all f I feel the winter coldness on my face,
the trees that cover me are all frozen
My nose is frozen.
The air is windy

The snow is all around me.

I feel the spring breeze through my hair,

From the bottom up I'm green all over.

Animals waking everywhere,
Flowers swaying along with the wind,
Flowers all around me.

I feel the summer sun on my shoulders,

People climbing to my peak.

The fiery warmth touches me day and night,

Picnics on my tree covered skirt,

Fireflies all around me.
I feel the chill of all through my ruffled coat,

As time changes, days get shorter.

Leaves are falling through the brisk air,

The temperature is dropping down low,
Bright Colors all around me.


by Addie Fairchild






Westwood Elementary Schools
Westwood Elementary School


Addie Fairchild 1st Place (Tent) Far Left


Zachary Richards 3rd Place (Sleeping Bag) Second from Left


Zeb Duvall Science in poetry (Tent) Third from Left


Jamie Richey Unique Poetic Vision (Telescope) Far Right




Zachary Richards, Third Place (second from left in photo above)

Now, don't be confused. I'm skipping around to accommodate these wonderful photos Ranger Tom sent.


Here is Brianna's second place poem, and you can find her in this photo, third from left.





Mount Jefferson Nature (second prize, 4-6)





Listen quietly and you will hear


A musical sound that by no doubt


brings Joy to us.



The rippling brook gurgles quietly,


the water seems to say, "Peace, peace, peace.


A doe takes a drink form the gurgling brook


and swivels her head to take a look

at her fawn, who is sheepishly trying to hide


while peeking out from his mother's side.


A gray squirrel is alarmed to hear


the call of the wise old owl.


He must gather acorns


for he knows that winter is near!


The old owl watches the gray squirrel,


amused by his alarm.


As he glides swiftly down to hunt,


mice scurry all about.


So you see, Mount Jefferson Nature


has its own song,


to show us the way


that the mountain animals


end their winter days.



by Brianna McCoy




---A lovely poem, isn't it? And I admire the way she uses rhyme.

(Westwood Elementary first through third prizes and Honorable Mentions )



Mountain View Elementary students impressed me mightily, and I'd like to congratulate the teachers who have turned these very young students on so early to the joy of poetry.

Mikayla Mullis's poem charmed me, especially her images of tree limbs shining like diamonds and clouds so thick they feel "like a blanket covering you." I loved the haiku -like poems by Yair Valcasar, Jordan Potter, and their classmates. I just couldn't decide, so I gave a tie to Yair and Dustin Sheets for third prize. What a great way to begin showing students how poetry helps you focus on what you see!








Mountain View Elementary

Far Left 2nd Place Mi Kayla Mullis (Back Pack)


Back row far Left 3rd Place (tie)Dustin Sheets and Yair Valcazar(Sleeping Bag)


Honorable Mention EmilyFarmer, Victoria Osborne, Jordan Potter, Brandon Taylor, Quin Farmer








(Blue Ridge Elementary Honorable Mentions in Poetry)





Blue Ridge Elementary School outdid itself in this poetry challenge. Brianna McCoy and Karoline Keith wrote two poems I just couldn't resist. I chose Karoline's poem for first in the K-3 division. You will see why when you read it.



MT. JEFFERSON STATE NATURE PARK


I think it is cool that I can see
Mt. Jefferson from my front yard.


Mt Jefferson is big and tall,


It has lots of nature trails to walk and run


It is a great park for people and


animals to have tons of fun.


It's a safe place for our wildlife


friends to be


They are protected by park Rangers for you and me.


From the top of the mountain


you look out and see the horizon.


There are huge rocks to climb on


to enjoy all the beautiful views.


I'm so thankful to spend the day


with my family on Mt. Jefferson


to hide and play.


I'm very happy Mt. Jefferson is in Ashe County!


by Karoline Keith, age 8, Second Grade



Here is Mikayla's second place poem in the k-3 category.



Sun gleaming down on the trees filled with snow and ice.


Tree limbs shining like a diamond from the sun.



Animals running around without a care in the world


They are as free as birds soaring like eagles.


Mountains so high they touch


the sky. Sky so blue and clouds


so thick they feel like a blanket covering you.



by Mikayla Mullis, grade 3, Mountain View Elementary


Third prize is a tie. I was taken with Yair's poem, which has the immediacy of Japanese haiku.


Mount Jefferson by YairValcazar

Big trees


Lots of animals


Gray rocks


Tall mountain



Dustin Sheets was straightforward in his praise of Mt. Jefferson:


Mt. Jefferson is a good place to live


If you live there


it is cool.


It has a lot of stuff.



(grade 3, Mountain View Elementary)


Here is another poem that I really liked from the k-2 division.
Mount Jefferson by Jordan Potter

I can see...
deer
bunnies
squirrels
I can hear...
birds
bears
leaves crunching



If we had more poets celebrating our best loved places, our homes, our mountains, our rivers, our seashores, perhaps we would all take better care of those places, making sure that they are there for future young poets to enjoy! A friend, Sheila Kay Adams, ballad-singer and storyteller from Madison County, recently told me, "We are losing our homes." She suggested the state ask each county to choose two writers to compose either poetry or prose about their places and have them gathered into an anthology for North Carolinians to read and enjoy. These young poets have begun that project already. I salute them and urge other institutions around the state to do begin their own poetry projects. In this, my last blog post as NC Poet Laureate, I ask anyone who reads these student poems to write a poem or brief essay about a loved place that you hope will be saved and protected. You can email me through my other blog, "Here, Where I am." I will post what you send me.






Tuesday, February 2, 2010

UPDATE ON FUTURE OF "MY LAUREATE'S LASSO"


Contrary to an earlier post, our new poet laureate Cathy Smith Bowers will not be posting to this blog. She will have her own site through the NC Arts Council's projected "umbrella site", which will also link to my Lasso archive. I will move a few of my Lasso features over to my "Here, Where I Am" blog, such as features on specific poets and new books I like. These posts will focus mostly on NC writers, but I am now able to give more attention to work outside our state. I invite you to visit "Here, Where I Am" and post comments. I'm also hoping to set up some "assignments" for interested writers, readers, and teachers.

I'll keep you updated on the status of the Arts Council's laureate site.

In the meantime, I'll be making the transition from Lasso to kitchen window! See you there!

Monday, February 1, 2010

POET OF THE WEEK: JOHN YORK

(John York, NC Teacher of the Year, at the NC English Teachers Banquet in Winston-Salem)

John York has been a friend of mine for many years. He teaches English and creative writing at Penn-Griffin School for the Arts, has been a devoted member of the NC English Teachers Association, winning their Teacher of the Year award, and best of all, is a splendid poet, one of the best in our state. His chapbook titled Naming the Constellations will be published this summer in Spring Street Editions' chapbook series. He's a graduate of the UNCG MFA program; his work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, as well as in several chapbooks. His prizes for writing include a Literary Award for Poetry from Greensboro Review and the Poet Laureate Award, in 2008, from the North Carolina Poetry Society. His poems have recently appeared in Appalachian Journal, International Poetry Review, and Pembroke Magazine. The titles of his chapbooks are Picking Out (Nebo Poetry Press) and Johnny's Cosmology (Hummingbird Press).


"Naming the Constellations" appeared in Pine Needles and those who are interested may find it at NCPS website:

http://www.sleepycreek.org/poetry/laureatepoemlist.htm





Here are two poems from his forthcoming publication.




Egret

1

Against the black pines,
a great egret, so large, so white, wading,
then freezing above its reflection.

2

Every Independence Day
it returned to our pond where it pretended
to be two reeds and a patch of sunlight,
until the splash, the snaky lunge,
the image shattered, rippled, coming back,
the beak pointing skyward,
the momentary swelling of the neck.
How I wanted to sneak in
for a closer look but had no cover,
so the alarmed bird would spring up,
laboring, beating the air,
circling, then heading over the horizon
to another pond, a quieter place.

3

And I imagined the minnows, frogs, salamanders
all relieved, all gathering in the dark
to tell horror stories
of Snapping Turtle, Mr. Cottonmouth, Big Daddy Bass—
but saving a shuddering whisper for the Lightning Striker,
Death’s Angel,
and proclaiming the name sacred, a secret.

4

But here, smelling the shore mud
and listening to the water, the wind as quiet as bird’s breath,
I pretend to be the plumed wonder,
and, solitary, I wade in deeper, one step,
then, another—wishing I were never distracted,
never deceived by the radiant image
(a long beak, hidden wings)—
I concentrate, waiting for what’s moving below the surface,
a flicking shadow, breathing, moving toward my feet.








Substitute

It was a long day for my father, milking
to be done by sunrise,
then the noise, the shouting of drivers,
dump trucks kicking up dust,
rushing back and forth between the field
and the wide trench silo—
carved by a bulldozer, the one
that scraped away the apple trees—
trucks loaded by the green harvesting machine
eating its way down the rows of corn
leaving nothing but stumps,
the trucks roaring back to the trench, silage mounded,
the men putting it to bed
under a black plastic tarp, my father using old tires
to hold down the edges—
all the men sweating and covered in dirt,
tassel, bits of corn leaf.

After the fields were sheared clean,
after I brought in the herd, my father went
to do the evening milking.
How were four children to know that the tarp
was sacred, that the claws
of the dog, chasing us again
and again over the black mountain,
would make enough holes to ruin everything?

Daddy came in at dusk,
raged his dead cigar back to life:
with the voice of an angry god,
Dad commanded Smoky to come to the chain,
Smoky the blond shepherd-collie mutt,
Smoky the laughing dog,
and with tail between legs Smoky obeyed,
Dad attached the chain to the collar
and threw the dog into the car, sped over the hay field
down to the trench, jerked
Smoky around and yelled as he beat
the yelping, writhing animal with his fist, with the chain—
and I was the dog writhing and yelping,
it was all my fault.

I sat with my dog long
into the night, there under the clothesline,
until my mother coaxed me into the house.

And Smoky followed the sharecroppers one day,
up to the main road, where he was killed chasing cars.





























Friday, January 29, 2010

CATHY SMITH BOWERS IS NEW NC POET LAUREATE!

Photo credit: Jeff Davis. This photo of Cathy was snapped at the studios of WPVM when she appeared earlier this year on WordPlay, the station's program by, about, etc., "writers, their craft and ideas."


At last I can break the news! My friend Cathy Smith Bowers, a poet whose work I've long admired, has been chosen to serve as North Carolina's new Poet Laureate. Cathy will be "crowned" on Feb. 10 in Raleigh. More about that later. Right now I want to congratulate her and thank the search committee for its fine work. I pledge whatever help I can give to Cathy. She will be taking over this blog shortly, though I'll also be contributing now and then, as Cathy and I deem fitting. I'll keep my "Here, Where I Am" blog going, so visit me there.

In the meantime, go to the sidebar of this blog and click on Cathy's post in the Poet of the Week column.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

GIVING MYSELF OVER TO GREEN




Two weeks ago, redroom.com asked its members to blog on the topic of "my favorite poem." How could I choose? One poem from all the ones I love? Then I took a look at our Aero garden and knew. Verde, que te quiero verde!
---------------------


Poets are fickle creatures. We fall in love over and over again.We can never remain faithful to only one poet. I began to understand this the day I forsook Wordsworth in my college Spanish class. My poetic guide. My first love. How could I?


What was I doing in a Spanish class anyway? Hadn’t my father instructed me to take either French or German, the latter being his grandmother’s native tongue?


He would have found it silly, the way my infatuation began, with a 75 rpm record bought during my senior year in high school. The Music of Spain. I listened at night after lights out to “Granada” and “Malaguena.” The hair on the nape of my neck trembled. The dark outside my windows beckoned.


And so, on the first day of classes in a small woman’s college in Georgia, I sat down to learn Spanish from a short rotund woman who demanded we call her La Senora, although she had never married. I read the classics of Spanish literature, moving inexorably toward the 20th century where in the anthology’s last section, I found Romance Sonambula and, and in the burst of a verde viento, the English Romantic poets became as dust to me. I fell in love with Federico Garcia Lorca. In Spanish. No matter how many translations of his work I’ve read over the years, the original Spanish has never lost its seductiveness, whether I read it silently or, better, aloud.

Verde que te quiero verde.

Verde viento. Verdes ramas.

El barco sobre la mar

y el caballo en la montaña.

Con la sombra en la cintura

ella sueña en su baranda,

verde carne, pelo verde,

con ojos de fría plata.

Verde que te quiero verde.


Not that I agreed with La Senora that everything sounded better in Spanish. Shakespeare? Wordsworth? Keats? No, I already knew that the language of poets is beautiful, no matter what it is. Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, French, English....Cherokee.


Garcia Lorca’s poetry spun me around, gave me a new way of experiencing language, my own language, which was now infused with the cante jondo of Andalusia.


Even now, years later, I recite those lines as a kind of mantra, Verde, que te quiero verde... and I still love the feel of them in my mouth. I love the deep song of them in my viscera. I have dreamed of trying to save Lorca in the olive grove, with only my child’s fingers pointed like guns at his assassins.


Verde, que te quiero verde.


Not even these lines can stop bullets. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. I know that.

But they live on in our daily lives, these words we love. They wait patiently for us. I had to reach middle age before Garcia Lorca’s duende found its way into my own poems.

Gone



Long before I could read Lorca

I wanted to give myself over to green

as he had and be lost like a sleepwalker

in it. I wanted to hide in the honeysuckle

and never come home if it meant I must stay

by the telephone, waiting for someone

to call with the doctor’s pronouncement,

my mother then turning to us saying

over and over again in my memory, Gone.


Such a word I would never repeat

to the oaks that held sway round my favorite pasture,

or blackberry bushes I dreamed would stay

unscythed by road crews sent forth to claim

right of way. Verde, que te quiero verde,

I’d gladly have cried if I could,

but where are such beautiful words


when we need them? And what if that’s all

this poem means now I’m middle-aged: words

as a way to want green back again

and myself in the throes of it,

even though I’ve learned enough about Lorca

at last to be quite sure that no verde

anywhere spending its June on this earth

could have outstayed for one blessed

second what waits at the end

of the line, always some bloodless voice

trying hard to sound human across so much

distance, its words still escaping me.


(from The Store of Joys, NC Museum of Art)



W.H. Auden said that art is a way of breaking bread with the dead. Each time a poet begins to write, or to read a poem, she takes the bread of those gone before and places it in her mouth. She does this over and over again. With one poet. Another, and yet another, living or dead. She loves the taste of the bread they share. So many poets. So many poems. By the end of her life she will contain, like Whitman, multitudes, and will never again try to answer the question, “What is your favorite poem?”




Monday, January 18, 2010

POET OF THE WEEK: ALEX GRANT



Alex Grant is a Promethean poet, which I know sounds maybe a bit pretentious. But he seems to be everywhere--publishing poems in just about every journal and e-zine, writing poems non-stop, posting on facebook, making numerous friends. How does he find such energy, this transplanted Scotsman? Is he a shape-shifter? He calls himself Alex Cougar Grant, but I think he must be Coyote! His sense of humor runs non-stop. He's a craftsman of great facility and sometimes, I think, trickery. He loves a joke. He loves the English language and how to play with it and let it play him.





His new book Fear of Moving Water was released last fall from Wind Publications -http://windpub.com/books/movingwater.htm- and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Google him, find out more about him, read his poems. You'll be pulled in and realize again the pleasures of language

Fear of Moving Water is available from your local bookstore, from on-line vendors such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or from the publisher.

Fear of Moving Water, $15.00,
59 pages, ISBN 978-1-936138-02-9


Wind Publications
600 Overbrook Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356


Alex's chapbook Chains & Mirrors (NCWN / Harperprints) won the 2006 Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize and the 2007 Oscar Arnold Young Award (Best North Carolina poetry collection). His second chapbook, The White Book, was released in 2008 by Main St. Rag Publishing. His poems have appeared in a number of national journals, including The Missouri Review, Smartish Pace, Best New Poets 2007, Arts & Letters, The Connecticut Review, Nimrod and Seattle Review. A recipient of WMSU’s Pavel Srut Poetry Fellowship and the Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets Prize, he lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with his wife, Tristi, his dangling participles, and his Celtic fondness for excess. He can be found on the web at www.redroom.com/author/alex-grant.

Here are some testimonials to his work:

"Alex Grant is a fabulist who spins language acrobatically into tales, tales into music, music into myth. Reading him (preferably aloud) is pure pleasure for the imagination, the mouth and the mind."
--- Susan Ludvigson

"If you value linguistic fluency, the flow of the English language along the warp of syntax, the weaving of image and rhythm into a tapestry of sound, you will find yourself immersed in Fear of Moving Water. Alex Grant brings his keen sense of language to every poem and he writes unashamedly out of the sheer pleasure of that language. Where does a poem's sense of place begin? In the naming of things. Grant names the world in all its multitudinous glories and terrors. Reading his poems kindles our desire to live again in that world."
--- Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate & author of Coming to Rest

"I've always believed that poetry depends on two truths: the probity of mystery versus obscurity, and the musical resonance of words within the poetic line or phrase. Alex Grant probes a menagerie of mystery in these poems, and among the younger poets I've encountered, he is more finely attuned to the music of poetry than most. He is a poet to be reckoned with, and he is worth every nuance of the serious reader's reckoning. This is a book that compels our reading, and our re-reading."
--- Martin Lammon, Arts & Letters editor

"These historically savvy, philosophically ambitious poems demonstrate as much linguistic and syntactical dexterity as they do an expansive literary mind at work. Alex Grant casts his visionary net far and wide, capturing the dark and shimmering..."
--- Dorianne Laux



From the book:

NERUDAS SUICIDE NOTE

- In memory of Spalding Gray

They say nothing ever changes

but your point of view.

Nothing – “some thing

that has no existence” –

this makes no sense.

I sit in the catacumbas

and listen to the rain

pound the papaya leaves -

my skin like confetti,

my heart a cheap lottery.

I have seen the tiger’s stripes –

they live between

the fine linen sheets

of an office-girl’s bed,

in the afternoon fumblings

of someone who is no-one,

with a heart bursting

like a red balloon

on a tap – the pieces fly

in all directions, you cover

your face with your hand,

and it sticks to your skin

like confetti, like phosphorus

launched from a Greek warship,

like the skin of a plum

peeled by a broken nail.



SECRET SONNET FOR THE COCKROACH

They live without their bodies for a week,

you know – subsisting on the head, the mind

alone - they flit like frogs beside a creek

whenever pounding footsteps come to grind

their crunchy shells into some pristine hard-

wood floor. You stamp on one, and six white eggs

are jettisoned inside a fibrous shard

they say is tougher than a whiskey keg.

Four billion years and evolution’s passed

them by – this crevice-living dinosaur,

resisting every futile fog and gas-

filled labyrinth - unlike the Minotaur -

bull-headed, eggless doorman of the maze -

that mythic locus Theseus embraced.


THE LONG, SLOW DROP

A wedge of salted cantaloupe

sinking in blue agave.

A bruised peach

in a white porcelain bowl.

The heart’s iambic thud,

like steps on maple floors.

Four strands of hair

in a lover’s mouth.

A zinc nail sunk in bitumen.

A black-haired boy

seen in a rear-view mirror.

A plum tomato skewered

on a bamboo stave.

A Chinese flag buckled

in the monsoon’s lull.

The white afternoon

turning to November dark.





- For the Haiku Master Issa, and his father

19 days into the late spring moon,

Issa pours sugar down his father’s

throat, rubs his feet and shoulders,

listens, in the early hours, to breath

labor like fading wind. He watches

him mouth unheard prayers, hears

the rattle in the gullet, the invitation

to the moon to walk with him again.

Delirium comes in many forms, but

none so blatant as necessity, none

so welcome as the inevitable stone

sinking back into amniotic blue.




HIS HOLINESS THE ABBOT

IS SHITTING IN THE WITHERED FIELDS

- after Buson

The mortal frame, the Haiku Masters hold,

is made up of one hundred bones

and nine orifices.

The mind this frame contains can be used,

or not used, to make the poem,

or become the poem.

Becoming is accomplished without thought,

making requires the application

of intent and will.

All change comes from objects in motion.

To capture the thing at rest, you

must be moving.

So, 7 days bereaved, Issa made his father’s

death poem: “A bath when you’re born,

a bath when you die – how stupid.”

Grief is a silk neckerchief covering a burn

around the throat, holding sound

down in the body.

And so we make these sounds without

thought – the heretic body burns,

intends, and moves.



Friday, January 15, 2010

READING AND SIGNING: CHEROKEE LITERATURE



Reading and Book Signing: Cherokee Literature in Appalachian Heritage .

(Please go to http://ncpoetlaureate.blogspot.com/2009/11/appalachian-heritage-special-cherokee.html to see the post on this special issue.

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian will host a reading and book signing Sunday afternoon January 17 from 2-4 pm in the Multi-purpose room of the Education and Research Center. Michell Hicks, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, will introduce Cherokee writers featured in the new issue of AppalacAppalachian Heritage: A Literary Quarterly of the Appalachian South. This issue features works by twenty-one members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, with cover artwork and illustrations by Sean Ross, (EBCI.) Featured author of the issue is Robert Conley (Cherokee Nation) who is also Distinguished Sequoyah Professor at Western Carolina University and keeps office hours at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian as well.



This volume is the largest collection to date of contemporary literary efforts by members of the Eastern Band, and includes poetry, prose, essays, stories from oral tradition, and artwork. The Editor, George Brosi of Berea Kentucky, will attend the event, where Conley will read from his work. Authors will be available to sign copies, which will be sold through the Museum Store at $8 each.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MARGARET RAAB: In Memoriam


Margaret (Peggy) Raab, one of NC's most accomplished and acclaimed poets, has died much too soon of cancer. Her funeral will be Friday in Chapel Hill. For her obituary, please go to http://www.chapelhillnews.com/news/story/54472.html. For a podcast of Peggy reading from her work, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu-Udyk_9PU.

Here are a few of Peggy's poems, as well as some comments by her many friends and admirers.
Paul Jones: Peggy was always talented and giving. In her last years, she realized many of her ambitions including becoming a full time faculty member in creative writing as director of the program at wichita statehttp://www.wichita.edu/thi
sis/wsunews/news/?nid=397
She also published at least three great chapbooks. Here she reads "Low Owl Illusion"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu-Udyk_9PU and "Transvestites in Waukegan"http://www.youtube.com/wat

Susan Meyers: Peggy was such an inspiration to so many, such a kind soul and so talented.

Dogwood Alarm

by Margaret Rabb

By pairs and threes they crash
and spin to the shoulder, drivers
stunned, unable to keep their eyes,
wheels, the tingle in their fingertips
from bark and open drifts of silk,
the looseblown momentary bloom.

April. They pass, retreat sideways,
floating away from the little accident.

A specimen tree in a suburban yard
is one thing, fertilized, gravid, buds
popped out all over, azaleas snapping
at its knees. But the woods at the edge
of plowed fields are another story, a waltz
at the dogwood diner, the dance that slays us:

four or five flowers hover over a branch,
crossed, notched, whiter than this world allows.



Two poems from Margaret Rabb's Shoulderable Shine

followed by a note on the author


Dante's Anteroom


1

In the middle of my life I found myself in a dark wood.

On one side, clouds settled like three or four trouble notes.

Then they moved, right to left, a slow freight

shuddering by the crossing grade. Or – I was looking

out the grate as a whistle shifted bars across the gate.


2

In the middle of life's way I found myself in dark woods.

On a landing a broom leaned out of a bucket.

Beyond the ferry wake, a slanted plume. Sunrays

slipped, then caught a jib and mainsail. Runnels hissed

to the rocks. White sheets cupped and held.


3

In the midst of life I found I was in a dark wood.

Rain scrimmed the air. It was all unclear,

a sandblasted flood I squinted through. Great,

I'd say, and try the other glasses in my pocket

but they only focused drops against the gray.

Just what I need now, cut loose and nearly blind,

an unknown coast closed in with rime.


4

Midway on life's journey I found myself in the dark woods.

At night the island might still be overgrown with fir,

starless but for piers and porches across water.

Black-green drooping boughs stir a diffuse

and moonish glow behind the clouds' light cover.


5

In the middle of the night my daughter's call –

old anger she'll never get over, oil and vitriol

against too much, too little, pitched and caught again.

Next night my mother's voice, scratched in pain,

near panic, twisted gut. Back to the ER

because – what else is there to do for her?


6

In my middle age, that darkening wood, I found myself

across the continental shelf from home. The flight back

skimmed high plains. Now I can't recall the place

for a waterglass, which drawer holds stamps.

No light outside since lightning hit the lamps.


7

Midway through my life in the dark wood

of Sylvania County, I found it was a hemlock forest,

a rhododendron hell. What could be more manifest

than native laurel thickets three stories high

holding pale petal spikes to claps of thunder in July?

My mother, nearly ninety, will not bathe or brush her hair

but sits askew all day in the black reclining chair.


8

After the middle of middle age a vision,

airy or ordinary, will not engage

but only aggravate a reader. Reactive fission

fuels the middle of middle age. A vision

from a line of Dante? Rescue mission.

Infernal fizzle pushed to the nuclear stage

over the edge of the middle. A middle-aged vision-

ary? Her ordinary will? Disengage

the dazzle. Any pen to any page.


9

For the straight road was lost. How hard a thing

to tell what wild, rough, dense or wooded was.

I turned too soon and drove too far, climbing

a one-lane gravel path. The gearbox buzzed,

the drop sheered off. Pines on that steep side.

Mills River understory ginseng and Solomon's seal.

I forced myself to turn back at the final hairpin.


10

For I had missed the right road. What hard work

to imagine for you, reader, this wood, savage and tangled,

and down where we breathe, air like condensed milk.

I lay low, gave in, adored the genes

that cool my children's bloodlines.

So bitter, so bitter is it, death is little more.


11

Past my mother asking for her father,

past my careless girls who husbanded nothing,

no harbor but clouds, no train but grief,

I left the right road. But the good I found

may be told: a shale never broken,

a shadow cove, whitewater at the cleft.

I stepped into the stream, sleepwalker woken

midway – myself dark words, dark woods.








Walking a Black Lab at Night


She pulled out to the leash's

end and disappeared.

From then on it was weird

air-fishing through the reaches

the cable gave her – reeling back,

casting and spinning – sudden slack

that dropped my wired wrist,

her hidden point I missed.





Margaret Rabb has been the artist in residence at the University of Central Oklahoma. She has taught at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, St Andrews College in Laurinburg, and the University of Washington in Seattle, and was awarded the 2006 Arts & Letters Rumi Prize by Coleman Barks. Her first book of poems, Granite Dives (New Issues Press, 2000), received North Carolina's Roanoke-Chowan Award. Her poems have appeared in journals from the Kenyon Review to Light Quarterly and have been awarded the Louisiana Literature Prize for Poetry, the Phyllis Smart Young Prize from the Madison Review at the University of Wisconsin, the Lullwater Prize from Emory, the Hackney Literary Award, and the Wood Award for Distinguished Writing from the Carolina Quarterly. Her new chapbook, Old Home, was chosen by Fred Chappell and published last November by New American Press. Next year Rabb will direct the creative writing program at Wichita State University.

"Dante's Anteroom" was first published in Chelsea; "Walking a Black Lab at Night" was first published by theCincinnati Review.

NAZIM HIKMET POETRY FESTIVAL CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS


The second annual Nazim Hikmet Poetry festival competition is now open. The closing date is Feb. 19, so begin to think about the poems you wish to submit. For more information about the Festival, please go to www.nazimhikmetpoetryfestival.org.




The second annual Nâzım Hikmet Poetry Festival will be held on Sunday, April 18, 2010 in Cary, North Carolina. As we bring together poets and poetry lovers, participation of area poets will be an essential part of this Festival. Interested poets are invited to submit their poems by Friday, February 19, 2010. The selected poems will be published on-line at the Festival web site as well as in the Festival Chapbook, and the poets will be invited to read their winning poems and introduce their poetry at the Festival. Each finalist will receive an award of $100. Last year's winning poems can be found at the festival web site.The 2009 festival chapbook is available at Amazon.com.


GENERAL RULES:


Deadline: Entries received by Friday, February 19, 2010 will be considered for selection.



Submission Requirements:


(*) All entries MUST be submitted via www.nazimhikmetpoetryfestival.org

(*) All poems submitted to the Festival must be unpublished, original works.

(*) Each poet can submit up to three poems.

(*) The poems should be in English.

(*) The selected poems will be published on-line at the Festival web site as well as in the Festival Chapbookl. By submitting their poems, the poets grant NHPF all rights to publish the poems at these venues.



(*) After the festival, the chapbook will be available for purchase at amazon.com. The proceeds from the chapbook sales will be used to support future festivals.

(*) The poets will retain copyrights of their poems.




Selection & Notification


(*) Submitted poems will be evaluated anonymously.



(*) The contact information provided by the poets will not be disclosed to other individuals or organizations.

(*) The poets will be notified of their poem’s status by March 22, 2010.




POETRY SELECTION COMMITTEE:


John Balaban, Professor of English, Poet-in-Residence, NC State University

Kathryn Stripling Byer, 2005-2009 NC Poet Laureate

Greg Dawes, Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, NC State University

Joseph Donahue, Senior Lecturing Fellow, Department of English, Duke University

Jackie Shelton Green, Piedmont Laureate

Hatice Örün Öztürk (ATA-NC Representative), Associate Professor, Department of ECE, NC State University


ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS:


This event is organized by the American Turkish Association of North Carolina (www.ata-nc.org )

Organizing committee: Buket Aydemir, Pelin Balı, Erdag Göknar, Mehmet Öztürk, and Birgül Tuzlalı

Contact: contact@nazimhikmetpoetryfestival.org