Monday, November 30, 2009



“Musings” for November 19

If you look up the word, “Kakalak,” in the dictionary, you probably won’t find it. If you google it, you’ll find a listing in the Urban Dictionary that says “an endearment of the Carolinas . . . which conveys a willingness to laugh at oneself and one’s origins while still remaining proud and affectionate towards them.” To those of us who grew up in the country of North or South Carolina, that sounds about right albeit it sounds quite a bit more highfalutin’ than we ever thought it was. If you’re a poet, the word has taken on quite another meaning over the last few years. It has become the title of an exciting annual anthology of North and South Carolina poets and visual artists put together by Charlotte-based writers Lisa Zerkle, Richard Allen Taylor, and Beth Cagle Burt.

The 2009 edition of “Kakalak” came out this summer, and the 136 page anthology features works by a wide range of area writers, including such notable authors as Gail Peck, Mark Smith-Soto, Alex Grant, Steven Lautermilch, Bill Griffin, Don Mager, Carolyn Moore, and many others, including, I’m proud to say, myself. The anthology is built out of the annual Kakalak contest which was won this year by SC poet Heather Dearmon.

The anthology is available for purchase for $15 through Kakalak’s website at, but Hickory area residents will be able to purchase it firsthand at December’s Poetry Hickory, to be held at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse at 6:30 on December 8. Poetry Hickory that night will feature an as-yet-to-be-determined number of writers from this year’s anthology. Known participants will include myself, Zerkle, and Burt, Lynn Stanton of Charlotte, Allison Elrod of Davidson, and Sally Miller of Charlotte. Organizers expect about 10 writers in all, so the evening promises to be a sort of sampler platter of some of the best poetry being written in our area.

To whet your appetite, I’m reprinting Elrod’s poem “First Fig,” which received an honorable mention in this year’s competition:

First Fig
by Allison Elrod

The fig tree has spread its generous
canopy across my late summer side yard.
Its branches are heavy with fruit.

Every day now, the figs grow softer
and fuller; they are taking the rain
and the warmth of a hundred summer days
and making them over into pleasure;
taut green skin and soft pink flesh.

Wearing only my nightgown
and my work boots, I have come
outside at dawn like some
post-modern Eve, yearning
for a taste of the fruit of the tree. I reach up
into the branches, reach up for the fruit
that hangs just beyond my reach,
the fig whose skin is just beginning
to bear the flush of readiness.

Maybe I am Eve. After all,
isn’t the light in my garden still
what came of “Let there be light?”
And isn’t everything to come
in human history beginning
on this very day, this very morning,
when this very fig--the one I am holding
in my hand--is finally ripe?

Or maybe, I am
a middle-aged woman outside
in my nightgown at six a.m.--
filled with happiness so pure it feels
like innocence--savoring the sweetness
of summer’s first ripe fig
before the light shifts,
before history resumes,
before I come inside to wake you,
temptation on my mind.

1 comment:

  1. Really hate I am going to miss the event but Kakalak is a great little anthology :)