Tuesday, September 21, 2010

HELLO FRIENDS OF POETRY




Hello Friends of Poetry, I am still flying high, still speaking the praises of our "Writers Living In And Inspired By the Southern Appalachian Mountains" whose fine poems were recently published in the anthology ECHOES ACROSS THE BLUE RIDGE. The soaring of my spirit comes I suspect from the many parties and public readings of some of the work in the book.

As the editor, I heard these poems in my mind over and over as I worked to position them in the most perfect place in the manuscript. But recently I've heard some of the poems read aloud in public at some of the book stores that feature and promote the anthology such as City Lights in Sylva, Twice Upon a Time in Murphy, and last Saturday in Blairsville, Georgia at The Book Nook. I've had the privilege of hearing some of the poems read by their authors, and I am overwhelmed. Maybe it is only the champagne going to my head. No, I don't think that at all. These are accomplished poems written by practicing poets. Enjoy:

NEIGHBOR LADY by Rosemary Royston

She has made them beds.
Beds of hay sporadically placed
in the ragged green pasture.
Pallets, really. Some say

she once lived north of here
had a high falutin', high payin' job.
Now she wears yellow rubber gloves,
like the ones I wear to clean the bathroom,

and there's a turban of sorts on her head.
They say she's the richest lady in the county.
Sometimes on a soft summer's night
I see her truck on the property line

and in the air I can feel her presence
as she soothes those she loves so much.
She has spoken to me once: One cow
is worth ten good neighbors.

by Rosemary Royston

Rosemary Royston lives in northeast Georgia, is a vice president at Young Harris College, and teaches at Young Harris College's Institute of Continuing Education and will teach in 2011 at John C. Campbell Folk School. She is a recent graduate of the Spalding University MFA Writing Program with poems published in The Comstock Review, Main Street Rag and in other literary magazines.


To say that Bettie M. Sellers read her famous poem "Complaint to Beatelgeuse" at The Book Nook last Saturday would be incorrect. In a spellbinding performance, she recited the poem from memory.



Complaint to Betelgeuse

I used to know that stars were stars
and stayed wherever in that distance place
their ordered orbit was. The sky
was snug with Cassiopeia's chair,
and night had big and little bears to hunt.

Then, winking moving lights began to stitch
an arch from Sunset Ridge to Raven Cliffs--
planes from Birmingham and points beyond
with travelers drowsing past sleeping hills
folded like dark velvet, with ribbons wound
for lake and stream, silver in reflected light.

Now, satellites invade the ridge--
the star I thought was Venus rising
keeps on rising out of sight
to bring the morning's news--and wars
are instantaneously played on beams
that tear Orion's belt, divide Andromeda.

Bettie M. Sellers is Georgia's most honored living poet. Governor Zel Miller appointed her as Georgia's Poet Laureate in 1997, and she served until 2000.


I also had an opportunity to hear Maren O. Mitchell read her poem which is included in the Echoes Across the Blue Ridge anthology.


VISITOR

Years I yearned for you.
Last night you arrived: shadow
displacing security, liquid
black mountain, elusive
Ursa come to earth, pulsing
with volume on our doorstep.
Midnight gusts whip cedar limbs
around the silent film
of your three hundred fifty pound imperturb-
ability as you see grain.
Your cousin, Fatty the raccoon, frequent feeder,
plays Court Jester: Wile E. Coyote, front stage,
left to right on rapid tip toe--prudently
waiting for your leavings.
Your majestic rump begins at the base
of your skull and moves on out into darkness
until it finds your feet.
You terrify me, Bear. I know
you can break my neck with one swipe.

It's said, when injured,
you sound heartrendingly like us.
Is this your first lone spring?
Have you marked against all comers?
May you live into old age,
never come face to face with me
as trophy of a trapper.

By daylight you've faded to dream.
Heels through to toes, I touch your territory to retrieve
mail as our domestic cats roll in your sent.
I too should roll,
as this is a close as I will ever be
to a spirit of the skies.
--Maren O. Mitchell


Copies of ECHOES ACROSS THE BLUE RIDGE
can be bought at local independent bookstores in 
Georgia mountains and in western North Carolina:


The Book Nook in Blairsville
Twice Upon a Time Books in Murphy NC
Phillips and Lloyd Book Shop in Hayesville
Curiosity Shop in Murphy, NC and elsewhere


1 comment:

Glenda said...

Great post, Nancy. I wish I could have been there to hear Bettie recite her poem. Such good poets right here in our midst.
Thanks for sharing their work.