Monday, April 20, 2009

Hickory Native Featured in Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series

Reading To Be Held at Patrick Beaver Library on March 29

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about the North Carolina Poetry Society. One of the more innovative programs NCPS sponsors is the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series. The GCDPS was conceived in 2002 when Bill Blackley, then president of NCPS, asked then North Carolina Poet Laureate, Fred Chappell, how NCPS could best promote poetry in North Carolina. One of Chappell's recommendations was to create opportunities for student poets to read publicly. As part of the NCPS long range plan, Chappell's insight was embraced, and the late Marie Gilbert, former NCPS President and published poet, generously funded GCDPS. Gilbert's husband, Dick Gilbert, and daughter, Mrs. Terry Sanford, (Laurie Gilbert), of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, continue the funding.

The result is a series that provides an honorarium to three Distinguished Poets (one each in the east, middle and west of the state) to mentor middle school, high school, college and adult student poets (three or four student poets a year for each Distinguished Poet) on a dozen pages of poetry over three to six months. To date, 56 student poets have participated in the series. The Distinguished Poet reads with his or her students at a regional college or university in April of each year.

The series also teams with Frannie Ashburn, Director of the North Carolina Center for the Book (NCCB). The NCCB funds up to nine readings annually by the Distinguished Poets with student poets in their hometown public libraries. These programs have created an opportunity for Hickory to experience the poetry of Tony Abbott (one of the Distinguished Poets for 2009-2010, along with Lenard Moore and Catherine Carter) and his student and Hickory native, Liz Monish. The two will read along with Jo Taylor of Raleigh at Patrick Beaver Library on March 29 at 3:00.

Tony Abbott, Professor Emeritus at Davidson College, is the author of 8 books, including 4 collections of poetry, 2 novels, and 2 books on theater. He received the Novello Prize for his first novel, Leaving Maggie Hope. He is past president of the North Carolina Writers Network. For the reading in Hickory, he intends to read from a soon-to-be-completed new collection of poetry.

Liz (Megan Elizabeth) Monish graduated in 2006 from St. Stephens High School. There, she participated in the band, Future Business Leaders of America, and competed in equestrian events. She is currently attending Saint Andrews Presbyterian College with a major in Biology and a minor in Creative Writing. In 2007, she participated in a study-abroad program in Italy for her fall semester where she stayed at Brunnenburg Castle and studied at the Ezra Pound Center for Literature. She is the current host of the Fortner Writers’ Forum and, last year, the poem I am fortunate enough to reprint below won first place in a statewide poetry contest sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Monish states, “This poem is about my time in Italy. We had to work in the vineyard every week, and harvesting the grapes was one of our biggest chores.”

Dionysian Bees

The grape harvest,
busiest week of the fall.
We walk down to the waiting vineyard
rubbing our eyes and making small talk.
The grapes hang in rows,
a pergola of sweetness.
Sticky clusters wait for fermenting.
Crawling underneath them,
we notice many drunk bees
feeding on grapes that have been pried open
drinking the sugar inside.
Ecstasy slows their movements,
and they fly in a rhythm,
performing an intricate dance,
a hymn to Dionysus.
One bee taps his sneaker
as he lifts a grape to his lips
thinking that the bee across the row looks nice,
and it’s that time of year
when she can make a few mistakes
and wrap her lacy wings around him.
Yet another bee flies in an intricate pattern
letting her body move in an instinctual way
dancing to the rhythm of wings
praising her god in the way she knows best.
Me, an outsider,
I could pick out a bee
lift him from his grape
in between forefinger and thumb
and ask him why he prays to the wine god
but my western ways
will never understand bee culture
so I pick up my clippers
and begin the harvest.

No comments:

Post a Comment