Monday, September 16, 2013

Exploring the Art of Poetry

Exploring the Art of Poetry

Poetry, like all art, is of course, about creating, about making something where there wasn’t anything before, or about making a transferable record of something felt, thought, or observed.

Not only is that the nature of the quarterly writing and reading series, The Art of Poetry at the Hickory Museum of Art, but it is also sometimes the very topic which the artists and poets who participate in the series explore.

If I’m not clear yet, try this. Artists create. Sometimes artists creations are about the act of creating. In academic circles, they like to refer to this as “meta.” If a poem deals with the process of writing poetry, it is called “meta.” If a play brings attention to the fact that it is, after all, a play, it is called metadrama.

This isn’t anything new. Shakespeare, for example, did it frequently, sometimes subtly, sometimes less so, as in, “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players: / They have their exits and their entrances; / And one man in his time plays many parts” (from As You Like It). Or “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more” (from Macbeth).

The next Art of Poetry reading will be Saturday, September 21, at 2:00 at the Hickory Museum of Art. Metalworker, Larry Heath, has many of his creations currently on exhibit at the museum, and three poets have interpreted one of his pieces as being meta, as having something to do with art, with its power and purpose, with the act of creation itself.

Series coordinator, Scott Owens, in his poem inspired by Heath’s Orange Moon, says the art of poetry “is what won’t sit still inside your head / what wakes you up at night / what calls memory back from darkness / what gives words the shape they take / what makes you wonder how much more you could do / and just why you haven’t been doing it.”

Assistant coordinator, Kelly DeMaegd, after viewing the work wrote, “The creator imagines order, / meaning, knows that if a connection / is broken, a tree burns, hills erode, / rivers flood, cattle drown, children starve.”

And regular participant in the series, Douglas Anne McHargue, writes, “This moon is so bright / it can jump off the wall / collide with our sin / burn it to embers.”

Creating, how we do it, why we do it, what it achieves, is certainly something worth thinking about, and if it’s worth thinking about, then certainly it’s worth recording those thoughts in our own way.

To see these poems in their entirety, visit the museum after September 21. To hear them, come to The Art of Poetry at the Hickory Museum of Art at 2:00 on September 21.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Poetry Society Takes Over the North Carolina Poetry Collection

Poetry Society Takes over the North Carolina Poetry Collection
by Rebecca Rider (reprinted with permission)

The Poetry Council of North Carolina is gone but not forgotten. When it disbanded in April 2013, the Council transferred its books and archives to the North Carolina Poetry Society. This legacy includes a large collection of poetry which is housed at Catawba College in Salisbury. The Poetry Society will continue to preserve and sponsor this collection.

The Society's North Carolina Poetry Collection consists of approximately 1,000 books of poetry by North Carolina poets, works of criticism, and chapbooks. Comprised mostly of entries to the Poetry Council's Oscar Arnold Young award, it also features volumes of poetry and criticism donated by members of the Poetry Council.

The collection includes works by prominent North Carolina authors such as Anthony Abbott, Betty Adcock, Jim Clark, Judy Goldman, Irene Blair Honeycutt, Michael McFee, Lenard Moore, Ruth Moose, Scott Owens, Ron Rash, David Rigsbee, Pat Riviere-Seel, Stephen Smith, Mark Smith-Soto, Katherine Soniat, and Rhett Trull.

Several of the authors included are editors of prominent magazines and professors at North Carolina colleges and universities.

Four North Carolina Poet Laureates also have a place of honor in the North Carolina Poetry Collection—Fred Chappell, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Cathy Smith Bowers, and Joseph Bathanti.

The Poetry Society plans to add more books and poets, saving a spot on the shelves for winners of their annual Brockman-Campbell Award. The books will continue to be stored in a prominent position in the Corriher-Linn-Black Library at Catawba College. The collection is currently managed by Catawba College Writer-in-Residence Dr. Janice Fuller, who serves as a liaison to the Poetry Society.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

One Day in the Life of the Poet as One-Percenter

One Day in the Life of the Poet as One-Percenter
(Tim Peeler on Top of the Green Monster at Fenway Park)

If you know anything about poetry in the 21st century, then you know that due to low book sales and other forms of waning popular support, including deep cuts in public sponsorship of the arts, most poets live very moderately, sometimes even desperately. The lucky ones hold down other jobs as teachers, technical writers, editors, “pr-hacks,” whatever they can find, and pursue their writing in narrow corners of time they squeeze out of their “real” lives.

Not surprisingly, then, Hickory poet and CVCC professor, Tim Peeler, despite being the celebrated author of 11 books, is very familiar with how 99 percent of the population lives. Recently, however, he was fortunate enough to experience the nature of life for the other one percent, at least for one day.

On August 15th, Peeler was flown to Boston by the Boston Red Sox. He was feted that evening at the posh Eastern Standard Restaurant inside the equally posh Hotel Commonwealth, two blocks from Fenway Park. The guests in his party included a former Connecticut governor, the public address announcer at Fenway, and Ted Williams’ biographer. The next day he spoke and read his poetry before a room full of Red Sox dignitaries and their guests and was then given a personal tour of Fenway that included encounters with team president, Larry Luchino; Red Sox Poet Laureate, Dick Flavin; renowned former major league pitcher, Bill “Spaceman” Lee; and sportswriter and analyst and ESPN regular, Peter Gammons. Finally, he watched the Red Sox play the Yankees alongside the Sox owners in their private, full-service suite.

All of this came to be because journalist and coordinator of the Great Fenway Writers' Series, George Mitrovich, read, enjoyed, and republished one of Peeler’s poems in his weekly baseball newsletter. CBS sports analys, Dick Enberg's enthusiastic response to Peeler's poem prompted Mitrovich to invite Peeler to join him for an outing at Fenway. While Peeler’s poetry spans a wide range of experience, he has published two books of poems about baseball, Touching All the Bases and Waiting for Godot’s First Pitch, as well as several books of local baseball history.

Here is one of the poems he read at Fenway.

Curt Flood

Try to tell ‘em Curt,
how you crowned their wallets,
climbed courtroom steps for them,
swallowed that black ball,
a scapegoat out to pasture.
They don’t remember,
can’t remember
the trash you ate,
your greedy headlines,
the slope of your career.

You are a ghost at barterer’s wing,
your smoky gray eyes
are two extra zeroes
on every contract.

Curtis Flood was a celebrated center fielder mostly for the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixties. On the field he was a defensive nonpareil, winning a Gold Glove 7 times and leading the National League in putouts four times. He also hit for better than a .300 average 6 times. Off the field he became one of the game’s most pivotal players’ rights figures when he refused to accept a trade following the ’69 season, paving the way for free agency. Peeler alludes to this legacy in the poem.

And here is another of the poems he read. This one provides a glimpse into the nature of much of the rest of Peeler's work with its refreshingly accessible Southern everyman tone, perspective, and voice.

WHEN THE FORTY-NINE SERIES WENT CROSSTOWN

Dodgers vs. Yanks,
Cooke Mull knew he had to be there.

First to convince his buddy, George Poovey
to freight him on his furniture delivery to Philly;
from there a night train to NYC.

With Poovey thus ensnared,
they proceeded from quiet Catawba County,
first stop, the liquor store,
second somewhere in Philly
to ditch the truck—then make for the city.

Huckleberries that they were,
they bee lined for the Empire,
becoming separated in the upper twenty—
and Poovey after an hour of wandering,
located Cooke in a bar,
tumultous, in story-telling high gear,
being fed and given drinks
to keep the comedy rolling.

In the Bronx they managed seats,
but Ebbet’s was SRO,
and the boys were packed in the back
of a horrible throng near the roof.

But Poovey who was a man of action,
reached the limit of his affability,
and along with an exaggerated
scratch of his privates,
he moaned like Wolfe’s Gant,
a most heartrending redneck truck driver moan,
calling aloud to the very gods of baseball,
“These crabs are about to drive
me completely nuts!”
And as Cooke always told it,
the crowd around them
parted like the Red Sea,
and they went forward
to a righteous view
of the remainder of the game.

I have been a devoted reader of Peeler's poetry since the early 90s, when I first encountered his poem "Carolina Trailer Park Take 5: Danny's Read Dad" in an issue of the now defunct Charlotte Poetry Review that also included a poem of mine. Because of his comfort and skill in writing about the world I come from, I list Peeler as one of the 5 most influential writers on my own work. While his baseball poems may better serve his reputation, popularity, and ascendency to the one-percent (one can dream), I'm still drawn more strongly to his brutally honest portrayals of working-class Southern life, so my favorite of his books will probably always be the much less well-known and practically impossible to find, Don't Take Me Alive. More work in that vein can be read in his selected volume, Blood River, or in what I consider his second best collection, Fresh Horses, or, on a more tightly-drawn stage in his more recent Checking Out. I had the great fortune recently to preview his newest manuscript, called Rough Beast, for which he is currently seeking a publisher, and I was impressed enough that I asked to use four of the poems in the latest issue of Wild Goose Poetry Review. One of them had already been published, but he let me use the other three (you can read those here). Once that book comes out, I suspect it may supplant Don't Take Me Alive as my favorite of Peeler's books. Regardless, the quality, quantity, voice, sense of place, honesty, and irresistible impact of Peeler's work marks him as undeniably one of the early 21st century South's most significant poets, and as a member of a much more meaningful one-percent than any determined by money could be.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting Poetry to the People

GETTING POETRY TO THE PEOPLE
(first published in Outlook, 15 August 2013)

My favorite quotation about poetry has long been William Carlos Williams’ “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

A speaker at a conference I recently attended claimed that this quotation was more important now, given our current political and economic climate, than ever before and challenged those in attendance by asking what we were doing to get poetry to the people. I was happy to be able to answer that I am doing quite a bit, and now seems as good a time as any to list those out in case there is someone out there who should be taking advantage of these opportunities but is not.

Since you’re reading this, the most obvious thing I do to get poetry to the people is write this column, “Musings,” about poetry at least twice a month for the local weekly newspaper. I also archive these columns in my blog at scottowensmusings.com, so that people outside the range of the newspaper can read and consider them as well. Of course, I also write and publish my own poetry. My 11th book is due out later this year, and more than 1200 of my poems have appeared one place or another.

I teach poetry and creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College as well as in workshops in the community and around the Southeast. Locally, I have given readings, talks, or workshops at Montessori at Sandy Ford, Mill Creek Middle School, and Challenger High School. I also give at least a dozen readings each year across the state in libraries, schools, and coffee shops.

Speaking of readings, I coordinate the Poetry Hickory reading series which takes place on the second Tuesday of each month at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory. These readings feature two widely published poets and an Open Mic which creates an opportunity for anyone writing poetry to share their work. Before each of these readings I facilitate Writers’ Night Out, which is a monthly gathering of area writers for networking and sharing ideas and opportunities or participating in workshops taught by Poetry Hickory’s featured writers.

Another reading I coordinate is the Art of Poetry at the Hickory Museum of Art. This one takes place quarterly, on the third Saturdays of March, June, September, and December, and consists of area poets writing and sharing poems about the works of art on display at the museum.

I edit an online quarterly journal of poetry and reviews of poetry called Wild Goose Poetry Review. I also serve as Poetry Editor of CVCC’s student arts and literary journal, called Catawba, and I edit an annual anthology of the best poems from Poetry Hickory.

Finally, I serve as the Vice President of the NC Poetry Society and the Chair of the Poetry Day Committee, which brings award-winning poets to CVCC for a day of readings and workshops each spring.

Most of these activities are announced in the local papers or on their own websites, or they can followed through my website at scottowenspoet.com.

I have a passion for poetry, and ultimately, I believe Williams’ statement and that of the conference speaker because I also believe as Edwin Honig claimed that people have “become indifferent about their ability to think or feel for themselves. Thus, the poet’s voice is needed now more than ever before – that voice which celebrates the difficult, joyous, imaginative process by which the individual discovers and enacts selfhood.” In short, I believe poetry helps us remember, enact, and deepen our very humanity.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Poetry and the Art of Surprising Oneself

Going through all my stuff to get everything on the new website is a bit like cleaning out the attic. I keep coming across things that I had forgotten or completely lost track of. This essay was written over a year ago, and a journal was going to use it, but they shut down before they every got to do so. In the meantime, I used it with my composition class as an illustration of documentation. Now, realizing that it has never been published elsewhere, I'm going to put it up here. In the next few days, I'm also going to repost links to some wonderful reviews that I hadn't looked at in a while. The new website, by the way, is at scottowenspoet.com, and it has blurbs and reviews on all the books, easy PayPal purchasing options for the books and the new CD, interviews, links to most of the meaningful non-fiction I've written, and now I'm working on indexing everything so that it will be very easy to locate everything of significance that has been written about any of the books or individual poems. It's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Help me out by posting a link to it to anyone you know who is interested in poetry.

Now, here is the "new" essay.


Poetry and the Art of Surprising Oneself

Who wants to read what a poet has to say about his own poems? What moment of surprise, what joy of discovery could there be in that? Certainly the poet would see only exactly what he meant to put in the poems. Right?

The funny thing is I think it is often the case that poets don’t know everything, sometimes not even the main thing, they put into a poem, much less into a collection of poems, perhaps not at all into several years worth of poems.

Such was the case recently when I read poet and critic Connie Post’s brief review of my new book of poems, For One Who Knows How to Own Land. Certainly I was aware that “redemption”, with its connotations of buying back, rescuing from worthlessness, discovering or recreating a value where it had been lost, played a large role in my 2008 book, The Fractured World, which concludes with an image of that unavoidable, universal redemption that saves us all from utter worthlessness no matter how hard we try to be worthless. That redemption created by physical death and the inevitable “giving back” it entails:

His skin had grown so thin
it easily changed into birchbark
and started peeling away.
And his hand,
his hard right hand
which never learned to hold
anything gently turned into
a leaf that held wind,
rain, sunlight upon it,
then let everything go. (79)

So it came as no surprise when columnist and newspaper editor Barbara Burns entitled her review of the book, “Hope and Redemption in a Broken, Fractured World.”

And of course I knew that my 2010 book, Paternity, embodied the redemption of a lost childhood in the story of an abused son who becomes a loving father. Thus, the book ends with “The Daddy Poem”:

The poem of my life has been
the transformation of just
one word, leaving behind
the slap and yell, sunken
teeth of argue and fight,
teaching instead the rule
of numbers, colors, left and
right, replacing fist with open
hand to carry, hold,
soothe, pouring tea
checking for monsters, eating
crusts of bread, skin
of apples, anything unwanted. (68)

Recognizing this redemption, poet and critic Pris Campbell wrote of the book, “It’s both a book of the love of a father for his daughter and at the same time, a type of atonement for his own father’s failings. By being a better father, Owens walks away from the ghosts of his past into a better now of his own creation” (par 1).

And, yes, in The Nature of Attraction, another 2010 book, I knew Norman, the male protagonist, could redeem himself, although no critic ever said as much, only by discovering enough capacity for love within himself to leave before he could cause further harm to those he loves. Norman’s own recognition of this fact is made clear in “The Day He Left”:

Years later, old and alone,
he’d see it as his one success,
the woman he almost loved,
the day he left. (33)

And I knew all along that my 2011 book, Something Knows the Moment, would be a controversial and dubious redemption of if not religion, then at least something that might be called faith, as exemplified in these lines from “Common Ground”:

I do not believe God will bend
to kiss this mouth. I do not believe
the wine will turn to blood. But something
knows the moment of sunflower,
the time of crow’s open wing,
the span of moss growing on rock,
and water washing it away. (99)

Thus, critic and NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti astutely observes, “By turns these poems are terrifying and glorious, always luminous, informed by an abiding faith that the liturgy of poetry will leave us burnished and restored” (Owens, Fractured cover).

While redemption had played a conscious role for me in the creation of each of these earlier books, I had not thought of it as one of the primary themes of For One Who Knows How to Own Land, a book of poems primarily about growing up in the rural South. Nor had I considered redemption to be one of my persistent themes across the full range of my work. At least not until I read Post’s remark: “This book will take you through an incredible journey themed on the brutality of rural life, the sanctuaries inside the self, and how in some way, we can be redeemed” (par 1).

With that thought in mind, I see my own poems with a new understanding. I see how the line, “I finally understand / the weight of it all” (93) in “Acts of Defiance” speaks to the redemption of experience. I see how “It’s the people you care for, / or hate, who keep you / coming back, or never let you go” (91) in “Homeplace” reveals the redemption of our families of origin. I see how “And every child should know . . . / where they come from, what / they bring or take, and where when it’s all / done they might return and call home” (88-89) from “Rails” suggests the redemption of place. And I see how each of the poems in For One Who Knows How to Own Land and perhaps in all of my books finds value in someone or something once believed to be valueless.

Of course, now, with the help of Connie Post, I think what could be better than a lifetime of work finding the redemptive value inherent in the things and people around me? Robert Frost famously said, “No surprise for the poet; no surprise for the reader” (par. 148). That’s the best thing about writing poetry as perhaps opposed to writing most anything else. If you do it honestly, without a preconceived agenda, it will always be full of surprises. If you do it as former Poet Laureate Billy Collins suggests such that the poem starts “out like a lone traveler / heading into a blizzard at midnight,” then the surprise will exist not just for the reader but for the poet as well.


Works Cited

Bathanti, Joseph. Book jacket for Something Knows the Moment by Scott Owens. Main Street Rag, 2011.
Burns, Barbara. “Hope and Redemption in a Broken, Fractured World.” Observer News Enterprise, September 5, 2008. http://www.observernewsonline.com/content/view/65509/91/.
Campbell, Pris. “Review of Paternity.” Good Reads, March 12, 2010. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7850683-paternity#other_reviews.
Collins, Billy. “Winter Syntax.” The New York Times, 5 Nov 2012. http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/poetry-pairing-winter-syntax/.
Frost, Robert. “Robert Frost, The Art of Poetry No. 2.” Interview with Richard Poirer. The Paris Review, No. 24. Summer 1960. http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4678/the-art-of-poetry-no-2-robert-frost.
Owens, Scott. For One Who Know How to Own Land. Future Cycle Press, 2012.
Owens, Scott. The Fractured World. Charlotte: Main Street Rag, 2008.
Owens, Scott and Pris Campbell. The Nature of Attraction. Main Street Rag, 2010.
Owens, Scott. Paternity. Charlotte: Main Street Rag, 2010.
Owens, Scott. Something Knows the Moment. Main Street Rag, 2011.
Post, Connie. “For One Who Knows How to Own Land By Scott Owens -- A Review.” Amazon. 3 November 2012. http://www.amazon.com/For-One-Who-Knows-Land/productreviews/0983998531/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1.

How Poems Get Written

(This is an expanded and revised version of a column published in Outlook last year around this time)

HOW POEMS GET WRITTEN

There is not a single answer to that premise. There is not a single answer to anything regarding poetry. Nevertheless, for myself, there is what might be called a pattern that the construction of a poem often follows.

Often, what later becomes a poem begins with a single phrase, line, or image.

In the case of the poem below, it was the image of an otherwise non-descript field behind a run-down finishing plant being brought to life by a blossoming of purple flowers. I saw this image while driving Highway 70 between Conover and Claremont, NC, one day. It struck me as visually appealing, so I made a u-turn, pulled off the road where I could see it, and wrote it down in my notebook.

That phrase, line, or image is then carried around for days, weeks, or months in my notebook, or in my head (admittedly a more risky approach) if I don’t get it written down.

In this case, the sentence “Behind the finishing plant a field is bursting open with purple flowers” sat in my notebook for several months. I tried several times to finish the poem, each time without satisfaction. I tried making it a haiku – no good. I tried expanding on the redemption spring offers us. That resulted in a different poem, but this line and image were still unused.

Over time, the phrase, line, or image accumulates other phrases, lines, or images until a sense of weightiness or significance or cohesion develops. Sometimes that happens gradually, sometimes in a burst, and sometimes not at all.

In this case, it was finally a burst. I was actually standing on a dock outside the Comfort Suites in New Bern, NC, listening to the sounds of several types of birds. I closed my eyes to listen, suggesting both that this noise was somehow significant, somehow meaningful, and that we hear such noise better with our eyes closed. I quickly jotted down the phrase “How can you be on this earth and not close your eyes on occasion to listen to the sounds of birds chattering their meaningful noise?” As I looked at that phrase, the idea of “meaningful noise” clicked with the idea that those purple flowers I had noticed months ago were also a sort of synaesthetic meaningful noise that I had “closed my eyes,” in this case to the routine obligations I was on my way to fulfill, to better perceive. So I put the two phrases together.

How can you be on this earth
and not close your eyes on occasion
to listen to the sounds of birds
chattering their meaningful noise?
Behind the finishing plant a field
is bursting open with purple flowers.

Then the shaping and refining begin, but the creating doesn’t stop either.

I liked those six lines, but I realized the third line was vague, so I brainstormed a list of birds whose songs I felt comfortable describing and added them to the poem.

How can you be on this earth
and not close your eyes on occasion
to listen to the sounds of birds
chattering their meaningful noise?
Laugh of crow,
annunciation of blue jay,
high-pitched twitter of chickadee,
moan of mourning dove.
Behind the finishing plant a field
is bursting open with purple flowers.

Again I liked it, but I knew it was too off-balance and I needed to add details to the flower image, so I closed my eyes to recall what I had seen in greater detail. I did another cluster listing out more detail than I knew I could use. Somehow the nature of the place I had seen those flowers (the contrast of humanity’s temporality next to the eternal beauty of nature) seemed important, so I chose those details and added them in.

How can you be on this earth
and not close your eyes on occasion
to listen to the sounds of birds
chattering their meaningful noise?
Laugh of crow,
annunciation of blue jay,
high-pitched twitter of chickadee,
moan of mourning dove.
Behind the finishing plant
off the run-down road
between failing furniture towns,
a field is bursting with purple flowers.

Again, I liked it, but reading it through I realized that the connection between the flowers and the birds was not apparent and that I hadn’t named the flowers. I knew immediately that I wanted to create the link by strengthening the suggestion of synaesthesia since that was how the two images seemed related in my head. I didn’t know what the flowers were, but I chose cosmos for the possibility of double meaning it involved. I added the last two lines.

How can you be on this earth
and not close your eyes on occasion
to listen to the sounds of birds
chattering their meaningful noise?
Laugh of crow,
annunciation of blue jay,
high-pitched twitter of chickadee,
moan of mourning dove.
Behind the finishing plant
off the run-down road
between failing furniture towns,
a field is bursting with purple flowers.
If you close your eyes
you can hear the cosmos blooming.

Once again, I liked it. And I kept it that way for a long time. In fact, it was published that way, but after seeing it in print, I realized I had my reader listening too much to the sound of birds rather than considering the act of listening, so I changed it one final time and because I added a line to take the focus a bit off the birds, I also had to sacrifice a line to retain the “shadow” of a sonnet in its structure. And finally, I decided making the final word “opening” rather than “blooming” would assist the double sense of “cosmos” in the poem. Here is the end result

All the Meaningful Noise
by Scott Owens

How can you be on this earth
and not close your eyes on occasion
and listen to leaves give voice to wind,
hear the laugh of crow,
annunciation of blue jay,
moan of mourning dove,
all the meaningful noise
of another spring day?

Behind the finishing plant
off the run-down road
between failing furniture towns,
a field is bursting with purple flowers.
If you close your eyes
you can hear the cosmos opening.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Poetry and the Internet

POETRY AND THE INTERNET

A recent visit to duotrope.com (an online database of publication outlets) revealed that there are at least 2000 journals actively publishing poetry today, nearly half of which are online journals. There are even poetry journals on YouTube and Twitter. A search for blogs about poetry turned up more than 3000 such blogs. And a statistical listing of 1000 of those blogs reported that the average one has 80 followers and several have in excess of 2000 followers.

That’s a lot of poetry, a lot of writing about poetry, and a lot of people reading about poetry.

And those numbers don’t tell the whole story either. I edit an online journal of poetry called Wild Goose Poetry Review. We have 250 subscriptions despite the fact that I tell people not to subscribe. I publish a new issue four times a year, but I post each poem individually so that readers can leave comments on single poems rather than on entire issues. As a result, when I put up a new issue, subscribers receive email notifications for each new poem and review. I encourage readers, instead of subscribing, to let me send them a single email when each new issue goes live. That way they only get 4 emails from the journal each year instead of 120+. There are 250 more people on that email list. So it’s safe to say that we have at least 500 regular readers.

But to understand just how many people read Wild Goose Poetry Review, you would need to know that the site averages 65 views and 15 visitors per day or about 25000 views by more than 7000 visitors per year. Of course, many of those are return visitors, but whether it’s 500 or 2500 distinct readers, that’s still a lot of time engaged with poetry.

All of these statistics lead one to wonder what this great quantity of interest in poetry on the internet means.

Firstly and most importantly, I think it shows just how much passion there is for poetry. Having done both, I can attest that it is much cheaper and easier to publish a poetry journal online than in print. The number of poetry journals has nearly doubled in the last few years not because the number of people interested in poetry has doubled (poetry book sales would contradict that idea), but because the number of people who can afford to publish a journal has greatly increased. Nevertheless, publishing a journal online still takes time, and the rapid increase of such journals is an indication of just how committed to poetry those who write, edit, and publish it are.

Secondly, the proliferation of poetry journals means that it is easier than ever for a poet to get published. Twice as many journals means twice as many poems, and with the encouragement that comes with almost any publication, more would-be poets will continue to write, submit, and presumably read poetry for a longer period of time. So, perhaps the number of people who maintain an interest in poetry will increase with the number of poets being published.

Online journals make it easier to get published not just in the sense of it being more likely, but also in the sense that the process of submission has become easier. Most journals, especially most online journals, accept submissions online, so there is no hassle with printing, stuffing envelopes, affixing stamps, and including SASEs for the return of unwanted manuscripts. Obviously, the online submission process is also cheaper. And the ease of electronic delivery to readers, editors, and poets means the process takes less time, so the turnaround time for submission-rejection-resubmission is shorter, and less discouraging, as well.

Thirdly, the increase in the number of people editing journals and submitting to journals means that there is even more diversity among the poetry getting published. At a recent conference I was on a panel with two other editors, and when we were asked what qualities we looked for in a successful submission, our answers were remarkably different, so much so between one of the other editors and myself that we seemed to give contradictory answers. Interestingly, despite that apparent difference in editorial preference, I have been published in his journal, and he has been published in mine. I wonder how many editors one would have to ask before getting the same answer.

Fourthly, internet publication makes it easier for a poem to be read. When a poem is published in an obscure 500-copy print journal from Montana, it will be read by the 500 people who subscribe to that journal. The poet has to hope that many of those 500 subscribers are libraries and that patrons of those libraries will read the journal and the poem. A poem published online is immediately accessible to anyone with internet access. It will be read by the 500 or so subscribers, many of whom will post links to it on their social media outlets, or email it to their friends, who may repeat the process. And, of course, anyone visiting the journal’s site or searching the internet for more work by the particular poet may see the poem for years to come.

Finally, for those learning about poetry or interested in developing their own poetic abilities, there is no longer any excuse for not reading a great deal of contemporary poetry. Students who used to rely on the “I don’t have enough money for a subscription” rationale can now find more poetry than they could ever possibly read for little or nothing online.

Of course, there are some unsettling consequences of the proliferation of poetry online as well. Many people are concerned that with more editors and more opportunities for publication, the quality of what is being published is significantly diluted. This may not be a significant concern long-term as the best poetry will find its way into the best anthologies and eventually into the classrooms and libraries where poetry outlives its author and any time-bound circumstances it grew out of. This, however, might be of little comfort to the poet who finds that with so much poetry available for free online, it is becoming increasingly difficult to actually sell a poem or even a book of poems.

Only one thing seems certain, for anyone interested in experiencing poetry, there has never before been so much of it available for so many at so little cost.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Dialogue of Poets

A Dialogue of Poets
(reprinted from the NC Writers Network Newsletter, 2010)

I am not a fan of the insular, one might even say incestuous, style of poetry that characterizes a great deal of what is published today, poetry that seems to have been written such that it could only be understood by other poets, or more specifically by other academic poets, poetry that seems to exist primarily as a vehicle for the poet to show how clever he or she is to the poet’s poetry friends who understand the language games, the obscure allusions, and the “code words” used in the poem. Neither am I a fan of the facile. I believe, as Frost says, that “there are roughly zones,” that it is possible to be sophisticated without being impenetrable, to create poems that utilize a wide range of poetic devices and that participate in the ongoing dialogue of poets about poetry while also remaining comprehensible to an interested and educated audience.

Nevertheless, part of the joy of reading a great deal of poetry is the discovery that in many poems, even while the individual poem achieves a clear effect on its own merit, the full range of the poem’s meaning becomes clearer and often more profound when considered in the context of other poems the poet might have been responding to. In other words, the experience of the poem may be heightened by an understanding of the intertextuality of one poem with another. Such intertextuality is one of the many forms of collaboration that take place in the writing of poetry.

Over the past year or so I’ve had the great pleasure, initially unintentionally and later a bit more consciously, of creating a series of poems that have formed a sort of dialogue between myself and renowned NC poet Tony Abbott. This dialogue really began years ago when Abbott wrote and I read his book, The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat. The poems in that book were among the first I had read that managed to move me to tears, but I had no idea then how they would influence me later.

Abbott’s book revolves around the loss of his 4-year-old daughter. Not surprisingly, the book’s expression of the awareness of the mortality, even at such unbelievable ages as 4, of those we love stayed with me over the years and influenced my writing as I explored my relationship with my own 4-year-old daughter in my book, Paternity. That same theme is treated in several poems, perhaps none more plainly than “Memorial,” where the speaker of the poem refers to his daughter’s “already decaying path” and “the unimaginable loss that lies ahead.”

The clearest connection between the two books, however, involves the seemingly miraculous perceptions of 4-year-olds. In Abbott’s “The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat,” the reminiscing speaker comments, “She stands very still // her eyes focused upward on some / object I cannot see.” Similarly, in my own “The Word for What Only 4-Year Olds Can See,” I write about how “My daughter made up a word, / effluctress, to explain why I couldn’t see / the rainbow bird outside the window.”

Up to this point, the dialogue between our poems had been unintentional, but this connection was so apparent, that when Abbott set about to write a blurb for the jacket of Paternity, he also wrote a poem titled “Effluctress,” and in that poem when he writes about seeing Mary, “in her blue dress with gold embroidered // hem and sleeves” who smiles at him “as if to say, / ‘It’ll be alright, don’t worry’,” I, remembering the poems from The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat, saw the image of his lost loved one, and in her, the figure of my greatest daily fear.

Shortly thereafter, in preparing to write a review of Abbott’s New & Selected Poems, I read his “The Man Who Speaks to His Daughter On Her 40th Birthday,” and the next morning, as I drove into the sunrise on the Causeway to Wrightsville Beach behind a jogging string of 4 pony-tailed, athletic young women obviously safeguarding their health, the relevant imagery made any question of intent or lack thereof irrelevant, and instead, writing the next segment in our ongoing dialogue became an irresistible compulsion. First, of course, I pulled to the side of the road and simply cried.

Here is the poem I wrote, the latest in our ongoing dialogue, but probably not the last:

Crossing the Causeway to Wrightsville Beach

The cormorants line up above the causeway,
their morning posture of feeding as ancient as trees,
older than even the first iambic lines.
We drive beneath them and rarely take notice,
not even of the stickle-backed sky full of clouds
that has lingered beyond them longer than reckoning.
I pull off the road to write down
the line I pull off the road as if
it mattered even more than destinations,
than the timelessness of cormorants perched
above the road that I get these lines down
because – what? They have something vital to say?
They’re all I have in the face of eternity? They,
like young girls running, help fend off the darkness.
I’ve read my friend’s poems in which
he still mourns the loss of his daughter
some forty years in the past, the grief
as fresh in his mind as what he had
for breakfast mere moments ago.
The sun is bright before me, the road
blurred with runners, each one
carefully preparing for what they’ll face.
I think of my own daughter and how
she’ll grow up one day if she survives
the shattered windshield, aggression of microbes,
cruel hand of fate, and I’ll
no longer have to write on roadsides,
plenty of time and peace at home,
and nothing but absence left to write about.

Why I Write Poetry

Why I Write Poetry
(reprinted from the NC Writers Network Newsletter, 2012)

My wife wants me to write a novel or a memoir or a children’s book or a book on parenting or hiking or gardening. I like all of these things, and I’ve written less than book-length pieces on each of them at one time or another, but there is nothing in me that makes me want to write a book of any of these sorts.

On the other hand, I have written 10 collections of poetry. The difference, from my wife’s perspective, between the books she wants me to write and the ones I write, is that novels and non-fiction stand a chance these days of actually making a bit of money, and poetry does not. A friend of mine, for example, recently received a $50,000 advance for his memoir. I have not made that much on all 10 of my books of poetry combined.

My wife, a beautiful, understanding and thankfully practical person, assumes that hard work is motivated by the reward one receives for doing it: increased home value for remodeling; fresh produce for gardening; the paycheck for the job. I myself am not such a Bohemian that I don’t enjoy getting paid, but writing, for me, is different. I have never seen it as a job or something I do for money. The practical question, then, is why do it at all.

There are, of course, numerous reasons for writing. Some write to effect change. Some to express themselves. Some to better understand things. Joan Didion claims, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means.” Francine du Plessix Gray says, “I write for revenge against reality.” All of these are excellent reasons for writing, and all of them play some role in my own interest in writing. All of them, however, can be the motivation behind almost any sort of writing. None of them answer the more specific question of why choose to write poetry.

Given the unlikelihood of writing poetry justifying the time it takes by any practical measurement, some might claim, and some have claimed, that writing poetry is mere self-indulgence. In practical terms, I can’t possibly deny that. There is certainly a self-indulgent element in writing poetry, just as there is in any unprofitable pastime. But I don’t drink (a lot), smoke, or do drugs. I don’t watch sports on television (much). I don’t play golf or tennis or video games or poker. I don’t race remote control cars or work on real ones under the oak tree in the backyard. I don’t go clubbing, belong to a country club, or hang out with friends in a bar. Most of us are self-indulgent in one way or another, and given that, writing poetry doesn’t seem such a bad choice to make.

In fact, it could be argued that writing poetry is self-indulgent in the same way that meditating or praying or yoga or working out might be. Writing poetry demands, after all, perception and reflection. It requires that the writer notice things, both internal and external, and think about them, relate them to other things and to one’s values and beliefs. Writing poetry, in short, improves the self, and a better self is a better father, husband, employee, citizen, person.

Still, one could say that all that is just as true of any sort of disciplined writing practice, so the question remains, why write poetry. In answer, I could repeat a litany of traditional claims for poetry’s exceptionality: it is more spiritual than other writing; more resonant; more immediate; more complex; more transformative; more cathartic, etc. All of these claims are somewhat true, but none of them are why I choose to write poetry.

Ultimately, the answer to that question is simple. The way I experience the world is more like poetry than it is like any other genre of writing. Poetry tends to focus on a moment, distill the experience of that moment into just the right words so that the reader can come close to experiencing the full gestalt of the event themselves, i.e. the emotional, cognitive, perceptual, visceral and allusive reality of the moment, such that the re-creation of the moment in the poem seems paradoxically both singular and universal as it resonates with the reader’s own thoughts, feelings, memories, knowledge and perceptions.

The bottom line is, I write poetry because that’s just the way things feel to me: intense, complex, and full of life and significance.

Monday, July 1, 2013

NC Poetry Is Alive and Well

NC POETRY IS ALIVE AND WELL

Poetry is alive and well, and speaks to a multiplicity of voices out of an ever-changing culture. Thus concluded national Poet Laureates Howard Nemerov and Richard Wilbur and NC Poet Laureate Sam Ragan at the Duke University Poet Laureate Festival in 1989. Then, as now, one of the primary forces behind the vibrancy of poetry in NC, was the NC Poetry Society, co-sponsor of that festival and many similar landmark poetry events before and since.

The NC Poetry Society was founded in 1932, having at that time only 6 members, one of whom was Zoe Kincaid Brockman, editor of The Gastonia Gazette. The next year, the following objectives were officially adopted by the society:

to foster the writing of poetry; to bring together in meetings of mutual interest and fellowship the poets of North Carolina; to encourage the study, writing, and publication of poetry; and to develop a public taste for the reading and appreciation of poetry.

For the past 81 years, the members of the society, having grown now to 370 in number, have strived to achieve those objectives by coordinating meetings, workshops, readings, contests, and publication opportunities for poets young and old, new and renowned, across the state.

The Society’s 17 annual contests provide opportunities for poets from a wide range of backgrounds and interests to receive recognition for their work. All contests are judged anonymously by renowned poets and scholars to maintain objectivity. Current contests include the following:
Lena Shull Award – new manuscript of poetry by a NC resident;
Brockman-Kincaid Award – best published book of poetry by a NC resident from previous year;
Poet Laureate Award – single poem by NC resident; judged by NC Poet Laureate;
Thomas H. McDill Award – any subject, any form, 70 lines maximum;
Caldwell W. Nixon, Jr. – poem written for children 2-12 years of age;
Joanna Catherine Scott Award – any poem in a traditional form;
Ruth Morris Moose Award – sestina;
Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage Award – poem on the theme of American heritage, brotherhood/sisterhood, or nature;
Katherine Kennedy McIntyre Light Verse Award;
Griffin-Farlow Haiku Award;
Poetry of Courage Award;
Poetry of Love Award;
Travis Tuck Jordan Award – students grades 3-5;
Joan Scott Award – poems about the environment from students grades 3-8;
Mary Chilton Award – students grades 6-8;
Sherry Pruitt Award – students grades 9-undergraduate;
Farlow-Griffin Haiku Award – students grades 9-undergraduate.

Most Society members consider the 6 annual events sponsored by the Society to be the highlights of its work. Meetings are held the third Saturdays of January, May, and September at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines. The May meeting features presentation of awards and readings by winning poets from the Society’s annual contests. The September meeting is highlighted by recognition of the Brockman-Kincaid NC Poetry Book Award winner. The January meeting includes readings and workshops.

Weymouth is also the setting for the annual Sam Ragan Poetry Festival in March, where participants wear bow ties in the tradition of Sam Ragan. This event typically includes live music as well as poetry.

The other two annual events take place in the eastern and western parts of the state, both in April, and include readings, workshops, and roundtable discussions. Walking Into April is held annually at Barton College in Wilson, NC, and Poetry Day is held at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory. Poetry Day is highlighted by recognition of the Lena Shull Award winner.

Other regularly scheduled events sponsored by the NC Poetry Society include monthly readings at McIntyre’s Fine Books at Fearrington Village in Pittsboro, and the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series. Since 2003, the Gilbert-Chappell series has matched a successful North Carolina poet with as many as three student mentees and one adult in each of the three designated geographical regions in the state. The pairs work together for the year, and at its conclusion, give a public reading in each student’s home library.

The Society’s regular publications include the annual awards anthology, Pinesong; its monthly online newsletter of opportunities and announcements, eMuse; and its print newsletter, Pine Whispers, published 3 times a year to keep members informed about issues under discussion, upcoming contests and workshops, and other poetry-related news and opportunities.

Additionally, over the years, the Society has published 4 anthologies of NC poetry: A Time for Poetry (1966); Soundings in Poetry (1981); Here’s to the Land (1992); and Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry (1999). Publication of Word and Witness was followed by a Touring Theatre of North Carolina production of over 50 of the poems combined with original songs, adapted by TTNC founding director Brenda Schleunes. Titled This Is the Place Where I Live, the production was performed 38 times in 26 cities.

Anyone with an interest in writing, reading, or supporting poetry in NC should visit the Society’s website at www.ncpoetrysociety.org. Membership is only $25 per year and is undoubtedly the best way to both support and participate in our state’s rich poetic heritage.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guidelines for NC Poetry Society's New Lena M. Shull Book Contest

Lena Shull Book Award

The Lena M. Shull Book Contest is an annual contest for a full length poetry manuscript written by a resident of North Carolina. The manuscript must not have been previously published, although individual poems within the collection may have been published elsewhere.

The entry fee is $25. Entrants may submit more than one manuscript, with a fee of $25 for each. The submission period opens September 16, 2013 with a deadline for receipt of manuscripts of November 15, 2013.

The winning manuscript will be published by a NC press, and the poet will receive $250, 50 copies of the book, and a reading at Poetry Day at Catawba Valley Community College in April 2014.

When you submit, please include the following:

Two copies of your manuscript (your name should NOT appear on any page of the manuscript).
Two copies of a separate cover page which must include your: name, address, phone number, email address, manuscript title, number of pages of manuscript.

Please send submissions to:

Malaika Albrecht,
2547 Doc Loftin Rd.
Ayden, NC 28513

The contest judge (non-NC resident) will be announced after the winner is chosen.

For more information, please contact Malaika King Albrecht at pomegranite8@hotmail.com

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Different Kind of Poetry Day

A DIFFERENT KIND OF POETRY DAY
(first published in Outlook)

April was National Poetry Month, and my daughter’s school, Montessori at Sandy Ford, observed the month in fine fashion. Each day that month began with a recitation of a favorite or original poem by one or more of the students. Then the students in grades 1 through 6 learned various forms of and ideas about poetry, were occasionally presented with a poetry prompt, and daily wrote in their “writers’ journals or worked on poems they had previously begun.

I spent every Tuesday of the month teaching poetry workshops to these students. I would read the entire school a poem and then teach workshops on things like paying attention, mind-mapping, imagination, writing about what you know, revising, and the usual concepts of simile, metaphor, rhyme, rhythm, and onomatopoeia.

At the end of the month the entire school gathered for its own version of a Poetry Slam. Tea and muffins were prepared and served by the students (a very Montessori approach), and every student shared at least one poem. Most shared many more. And most were recited rather than read from the page. The energy and excitement about poetry exhibited by the students was unlike any I’ve seen at a reading or slam in the 20 years or so I’ve been attending and conducting such events.

There were the perennial grade school favorites by Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein as well as some not generally categorized as children’s poems by Mary Oliver and E. E. Cummings. My favorites were the ones the children had written themselves. There are only a little more than 2 dozen students at these grade levels in the school, but the readings went on for over two hours and would have gone on longer if not for the necessity of instruction in things like Math and Reading. I think Maggie, Hannah, and Evan Sherrill, Olivia Jarman, Marie and Margaret Erickson, Mati Glynn, Malia Agostinelli, David Schell, and my daughter, Sawyer, would have shared poems all day if they had been allowed to.

I have been asked to come back in the fall and continue our Tuesday morning poetry work. The students are interested in compiling an anthology of their work, and many plan on submitting their poems to contests sponsored by the NC Poetry Society. As part of Poetry Month the students also went on a field trip to the Hickory Museum of Art to try their hand at ekphrastic poetry, and they want to do that again as well.

It is, of course, very gratifying to see this sort of excitement about poetry and to know teachers who appreciate and embrace the role poetry can play in a child’s education and development.

Here are two original poems from the Montessori at Sandy Ford Poetry Slam.

Too Much T for Tea
by Olivia Jarman, grade 4

To, tomorrow, tonight, today.
How many t’s did I just say?
Oh, my, that’s four.
I think we have 22 more.
Talent, team, tic-tac-toe,
tennis, tickle, Tupelo,
toucan, tough, tournament,
tattle, toothache, two-man tent.
Now you know
most of the show.
Let’s see, tractor, train, traffic light,
tremble, tremendous, tricycle,
terror, pterodactyl, tea kettle.
Thank you for having too much tea
with all my favorite words and me.

What If . . .
by Marie Erikson, grade 5

the sky was yellow,
the water was red,
the sun was blue,
the leaves were orange,
the dirt was purple,
the air was green.
What if
sharks could fly,
and birds could swim,
caterpillars turned into frogs
and tadpoles into butterflies.
What about these crazy humans,
you might ask.
Well it might be better
if I don’t explain.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wonderful Poem from Diane Kistner

Wonderful poem from Diane Kistner's book, Falling in Caves

Hide and Seek

One morning the sun did not rise
in the east as expected.
It rose through the roots of trees,
up through the trunks and branches
and into the leaves.
There the sun hid for a long time.
The earth did not know where the sun was hiding.
It looked high, then low, then high again.
The sun was not in the sky!
The earth ran around and around for hours
trying to find where the sun might be.
The sun was laughing all that time, disguised
as thousands and thousands of golden leaves.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Robert King's "One Man's Profit"

Here is my blurb from the back of Robert King's "One Man's Profit," a book well worth ordering, reading, and keeping:

These are poems that resonate, that create a space for the reader to come into and pause a moment and reflect on the significance of such things as aging and religion and duty and justice and the necessary paradox of longing to be a part of and apart from the natural world, by which is meant all that is nature, human and otherwise, including its rawest, most universal and inescapable passions. Ultimately, “One Man’s Profit” makes clear life’s one certain truth: all any of us stand a chance of keeping is what we notice, what we love enough to remember.

Sample poems from the collection are available in a wide array of journals, including "Wild Goose Poetry Review," "Pirene's Fountain," "Rusty Truck," "Southern Poetry Review," "Dead Mule," and many more. The book is available through Amazon.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What One Poet Said About "The Fractured World"

I received a wonderful note from fellow poet, Lynn Ciesielski, about "The Fractured World." I had to share it somewhere, so here it is:

Dear Scott:

I finally took the time to order a copy of your collection and I was very glad that I did. The Fractured World is extremely riveting, poignant, at times humorous and always well-written. I ended up reading it cover to cover while I waited at a mechanic's garage where my husband sometimes works on race cars. This says a lot because there was a lot of noise there and normally I can't concentrate with any distractions. However, I was completely focused throughout the text.

The first section provided a good lead-in to the second and third which I found more disturbing. "The Liberation of Breakfast" was very comical and slant. "The Writing On The Wall" was also quite humorous but in a different way. It seems everyone must have found some very interesting reading material on bathroom walls. "Make Believe" is sad but at the same time reassuring. At least the subject has an out with the ability to write.

Just about all the poems in Suite Norman are extremely heart-wrenching. I felt so much empathy for Norman's family and Norman as well, for he too suffers immensely throughout his inward torture and his own history of abuse. It is tempting to simply hate him, but you frame him in such a sensitive way that I want to understand his motivations. Case in point, you immediately begin the section with "Norman's Storm Fear," illustrating how he is riddled with insecurities, however insignificant. "Norman Learns Not To Cry" continues with Norman's learning early to squelch his emotions. I like the way you continue through his boyhood and courting years, then move into his experiences with his own wife and children. Norman never seems quite happy as illustrated in "Norman Everyday". His own disgust with himself and his life comes to a culmination in "Norman In The Window, His Eyes Like Shattered Glass". By this point, he is drawing others deeply and tragically into his drama. "Inventory" is extremely grotesque and sound as if Norman has some socio-pathic tendencies. "Remote" seems to confirm this. In "Norman Had A Change of Heart," you give us hope that possibly Norman has reformed.

Smoke Dissolving In Wind is a sad section, largely dealing with coming to grips with a life upturned. "Holding The Breath We Feel Inside Of Us" shows that you can never completely dismiss those disturbing aspects of your life. "Obsession" racks the brain with various possibilities for committing suicide and "The Question Of Failure Arises" shows how even that isn't an easy solution to the pain life can dish out. "On The Days I Am Not My Father" is very telling. While at first it appears that the speaker has nothing but negative feelings toward his father, the ending reminds us that he does love him after all. "So Norman Died Of Course" is a very surprising ending. This is not because Norman dies, that is, every life ends in death, but because this poem is fairly different than the others in the collection. I'm not sure of the reason for all of the surrealistic images but they certainly do get my attention. The last line is lovely,

his hand, his hard right hand which never learned to hold anything gently turned into a leaf that held wind, rain, sunlight
upon it, then let everything go.

Thank you for sharing this story.

Best wishes,
Lynn Ciesielski

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NC Poetry Society 81st Anniversary Reading at Malaprops in Asheville, Sunday, 4/14, 3:00

N.C. POETRY SOCIETY READINGS & CELEBRATION
Start: 04/14/2013 3:00 pm

Local North Carolina Poetry Society poets Kathy Ackerman, Michael Beadle, Scott Owens and Kathy Weisfeld will join host Pat Riviere-Seel to help celebrate the NCPS’s 81st year. The NCPS, begun in Charlotte, NC, in 1932 and incorporated in 1966, supports, promotes and brings poets together through meetings, workshops, contests, publications, mentoring programs and more. Come hear some of the poets from Western NC read their poems and discover what the NCPS can do for you and your poetry.



Kathy Ackerman grew up in Northwest Ohio but has lived in the Carolinas since 1984. She has published three poetry chapbooks: The Time It Takes (Finishing Line Press); Crossbones and Princess Lace (NCWN Mary Belle Campbell Poetry Chapbook Award); and Knock Wood (Main Street Rag) as well as a critical biography of Olive Tilford Dargan, The Heart of Revolution (University of Tennessee Press). Her latest poetry book, Coal River Road, will soon be published by Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama. She is Writer-in-Residence and the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, NC, and resides in Tryon.



Michael Beadle is an award-winning poet, author and teaching artist living in Canton, NC. His poems have been published in journals and anthologies such as The New Southerner, Sow's Ear, and Wild Goose Poetry Review. Since 1998, he has been performing original, contemporary and classical poetry at schools, festivals and special events. As a North Carolina A+ Fellow and touring writer-in-residence, Michael teaches writing and arts integration workshops for students and teachers across the state. He is the author of three poetry chapbooks, one poetry CD, and four books on Haywood County history. Last summer, Michael spent a fun-filled week at the NC Zoo in Asheboro as a poet-in-residence. He also serves as Student Contest Director for the NC Poetry Society.



Scott Owens’ tenth collection of poetry, Shadows Trail Them Home, was recently published by Clemson University Press. He is the author of more than 1200 published poems and his prior work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/Indie Lit Awards, the NC Writers Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. He is the founder of Poetry Hickory, editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234, and vice president of the NC Poetry Society. Born and raised in Greenwood, SC, he currently teaches at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC.



Pat Riviere-Seel, a past President of the NCPS, is the author of two poetry collections. The Serial Killer’s Daughter (Main Street Rag, 2009) won the North Carolina and Historical Society’s Roanoke-Chowan Award. No Turning Back Now (Finishing Line Press, 2004) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2012 she was selected as a Poet-in-Residence at the NC Zoo and received a creative residency fellowship from the Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, Georgia. She earned her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.



Kathy Weisfeld lives in Burnsville, NC. Her poems have been published in WNC Woman and The Great Smokies Review. After a long hiatus, she began writing again to express the grief of her partner's death and the muse has returned in many guises. She volunteers for Yancey Hospice and The Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center. She was chosen to be mentored by Joseph Bathanti as part of the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series 2012.


Location:

55 Haywood St
Asheville,
North Carolina
28801
United States

Here Comes the Slam

HERE COMES THE SLAM

The Poetry Council of North Carolina has sponsored a series of contests for NC poets for 61 years. Three years ago the Council added a poetry slam to its annual contests. On April 20 the Council will hold its third slam as part of Poetry Day at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory.

A slam is not exactly “your father’s poetry reading.” A slam is a contest of live performances of poems with an emphasis on the “performance” element. The first competition known to be called a slam, took place in Chicago in 1986.

Poems entered into a slam can run the gamut from traditional formal poetry to avant garde performance poems, from the personal to the political, from inspirational spoken word to riveting dramatic monologue.

The rules are simple. The poem must be an original composition of the performer. The performance can last no more than 3 minutes, and no props, costumes, or background music is permitted. Judges are chosen randomly from the audience.

The Poetry Council Poetry Day Slam has a $5 entry fee and prizes of $35, $25, and $15. Up to three Honorable Mentions may also be selected by the judge. Poetry Day is attended by a diverse, multi-aged audience, so slam poems are pre-screened for appropriateness.

To enter the Poetry Day Poetry Slam, the poem, and name, address, phone number, and email address of the performing poet should be emailed to Shane Manier at deepfrostx@yahoo.com. Registration may be allowed at Poetry Day, but no more than 20 performers will be allowed to enter the contest.

Poetry Day activities begin at 9:30 and conclude at 3:00 and will include readings by all of the Poetry Council’s annual contest winners. Visit www.poetrycouncilofnc.wordpress.com for more information.

Bob Moyer, Slammaster of the Winston-Salem Poetry Slam and drama instructor at the NC School of the Arts, won the first Poetry Council Poetry Slam with his performance of “Things Fall Out of My Father.”

THINGS FALL OUT OF MY FATHER
by Bob Moyer

his partial plate lands on the place mat
we look at it we look at him he
gives a gap-toothed grin we
smile my mother and I

things fall
out of my father
he dwindles day by day the earth draws him nearer to her
the body of a ten year old
the voice of a five year old floats up from the back seat
are we there yet we
smile my mother and I

things
fall out of my father
a brown stain runs down the back of his pant leg
he cups his hand under his butt as he dances hi
anorexic two-step towards the restaurant restroom
past the waitress scraping garbage showing cleavage
she doesn’t mean to she doesn’t see me she doesn’t see
him but my father thinks everybody sees him

and I don’t know what to do when
things fall out of my father

I find the answer aisle ten bob and carl’s supermarket
adult medium sized diapers I buy them take them home
in the dim light of the dining room my father’s son
puts a diaper on him the plastic elastic replicates
the wrinkle in his skin

I’ve come full cycle haven’t I he says we
smile my father and I

and then my father says the thing that makes me see what to do when
things fall out of my father –

people write poems about things like this don’t they

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Long Distance Writer

THE LONG DISTANCE WRITER
(first published in Outlook)

If the United Arts Council sponsored a Poet Laureate for the Catawba County area, an idea well worth considering, it would have to be Tim Peeler. Raised in Catawba County, no one has nor probably ever will write more about the people and places, only sometimes veiled behind poetic masks, of this region than Peeler. And no one has done more to bring poetry into the area or bring it out of those who live and learn here. The power of Peeler’s poetry speaks for itself. And I can speak personally of his influence, having identified him in a recent interview as the most influential Southern writer on my own work.

In his younger days, Peeler was a long-distance runner, and throughout his career he has approached his writing with the same discipline, patience, perseverance, humility, and consistency that such running requires. Now 56, he recently sent me a copy of his 7501st poem. Here it is, ironically titled “7501,” and still demonstrating the humility that marks the man and his work:

7501

I’ve written around 4500 poems since 1998,
3000 or so before the year
I got the needle in the groove,
And like my friend Charlie says,
I’ll die with a chest high stack of poems
Leaning like a mountain goat
In a half-painted closet.
My youngest son has promised
To burn them at the fire pit, one at a time,
But I know how he is;
He’ll throw them all in at once.

We think of Emily Dickinson’s nearly 2000 poems as a great achievement, and of Rumi’s roughly 4000 poems as virtually impossible. What, then, can we say about anything approaching 8000? Even more amazing, though I won’t pretend to have read all of Peeler’s poems, of the hundreds I have read, very few don’t qualify as good, and an enviable abundance qualify as very good.

After receiving this poem, I asked him why anyone would write that many poems. His answer was simply, “obsessive-compulsive disorder.” I also asked him when he wrote his first good poem, and to illustrate his previous reply, he said, with a straight face, “I’m not sure I’ve written it yet.”

In this time of Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame having become a reality, there is as much to be admired in Peeler’s attitude towards life and work as there is in the work he produces.

I asked Peeler what advice he would have for young writers in the area, and he replied: “You have to be a voracious reader, but you can only read so many books in your lifetime, so pick something that is either great or helpful to you on your journey.” He also added that they “are lucky to be in Catawba County where they can find support for what they do, the companionship of other writers, and free access to a local college writing series that regularly engages the services of world class writers.”

Peeler’s collections of poetry are as follows:
Touching All the Bases (McFarland, 1999), out of print but available from used Amazon book dealers.
Waiting for Godot’s First Pitch (McFarland, 2001)
Blood River: Selected Poems 1983-2005 (Rank Stranger Press, 2005)
Fresh Horses (Rank Stranger Press, 2007)
Checking Out (Hub City Press, 2010)
Waiting for Charlie Brown, a collaboration with Ted Pope (Rank Stranger Press, 2011)

I know that he is working on yet another series of poems, this one based on the abandoned Henry River Mill Village; I hope he is also putting the best of his work together in a collection that will inevitably portray a world populated by the most amazing people as perceived by one of our time’s most amazing writers.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Weight of Teaching

The Weight of Teaching

I love teaching. And I love teaching my Writing about Literature class at Catawba Valley Community College. In 20+ years of teaching, I have had a lot of good days in the classroom, and this year, I have had a lot of good days in this particular class. Today was one of the best.

Today we read the poem “Acts of Defiance” in which a young boy has to reach inside the back end of a cow to help a calf be born. The poem says,

I simply did as I was told
and reached my hands,
my forearms, long and thin,
even up to the elbows,
into the bloody back end
of a moaning cow
to grasp what I felt there
and pull,
and pull harder
when it wouldn’t come
until something appeared,
and pull harder still
until something became
a wet mess of calf
spilling into my lap.

One student saw in this struggle to bring about life a metaphor for life itself and for the process we go through to extract meaning from our own lives. “It’s difficult,” he said; “It’s messy. We often don’t know what we’re doing or what we’ve got a hold of, but if we keep pulling, we’ll eventually get it out, and have something of significance.” Throughout this course we have occasionally discussed existentialism and the process of making meaning.

Another student noticed how the boy in the poem is surrounded by his uncles and his grandfather but not his father and suggested the poem expresses the difficulty of learning life lessons in the absence of a parent and the importance of others filling the void left by an absent parent. Throughout this semester we have used reader-response journals to help the students explore how the poems and stories we read relate to their own lives and experiences. This student’s own father has been incarcerated since the student was a young boy.

When the speaker of this poem later witnesses the birth of his own child, he comments “I finally understand / the weight of it all.” Both of these students immediately understood the weight of that line not only in the poem but in their own lives and in their understanding of how meaning is made.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fuquay Varina Article

Acclaimed Poet and Editor Scott Owens Will Read at Lazy Lion

By Nancy Young, from The Fuquay Varina Independent, 21 March 2013

Poetry isn’t religion. No one would die for it or of it. Poet, editor and educator Scott Owens knows these truths. Yet still he writes poetry "religiously," with over 1200 published poems, ten poetry collections, and nine Pushcart nominations. And he’s coming to the Lazy Lion in Fuquay-Varina this Thursday evening to share his work.

Owens’ poetry is at once distressing and transforming. “All of me is the monster here,” he attests in “Persona." He then adds, “Here you’ll see the monster in me is you,” making one wonder if he means the monster is a creation of the judgmental viewer or if the monster is something we share in common. Of course, he probably means both, and Owens faces the monster in himself, in all of us, and in our judgments of each other in poem after poem.

“We all possess the human potential for cruelty," Owens remarks in a recent interview. "Anyone who has seen that cruelty firsthand, carries awareness of that potential with him, fears it in himself and others.” In his collection “The Fractured World,” Owens reveals a causative cruel realm of child abuse and pain, but also the possibility of empathy and redemption.

Poems have redeemed Scott Owens. “I’m a better person when I write poetry,” he explains. His creative process helps him make meaning out of his own life and the world in general. “We all have shadows,” Owens says. “Art is one way to deal with them. Art helps up pay attention, make conscious decisions, keep an open mind, see connections between things, and grant significance to things otherwise devalued.”

His second collection, “Paternity,” rediscovers childhood wonder and the saving grace of parenthood.

His latest collection, “For One Who Knows How to Own the Land,” chronicles his youth in the dirt-poor Piedmont, where his grandfather “broke the earth, broke cows/ in the pasture, chicken-bones/ in his teeth.” It’s a child’s world of slingshots, screen doors, red dirt, carcasses and scuppernongs, a world of poverty and death and regret tempered by the promise of seeds in the ground and the sometimes soft touch of hands made rough by necessity.

Listeners sometimes cry at his readings. Readers sometimes cry on their own.

Scott Owens insists the poetry’s not all about him. But his poems are loosely about the places and people he knows—forts of broom straw, fields dotted with skeletons of tobacco stalks, the gnarled hands that fix fence wire and slaughter cows.

Writing allows him to step outside life and reorder a fragment of it. “There’s a part of me,” he says, “that remains controlling, that likes things in at least a temporary order. It’s a way of fighting off the shadows.”

Words offer possibilities but resist absolutes. Scott Owens embraces possibilities.

The evidence lies in his poems. He sees the benefit and despair of precision in a neatly made bed in “Hospital Corners,” decrying “a bed that disallows/ movement, breath, /rampant possibility.”

Owens doesn’t limit himself to writing alone. He teaches at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC, edits “Wild Goose Poetry Review,” serves as Vice-President of the NC Poetry Society, and coordinator of several area reading series. He also gardens, hikes, and spends time with his family.

As an editor, he offers advice to writers just starting out. First, he says, never prioritize publishing over writing. Resist formulaic approaches just because they sell. It’s artistic death.

Next, he says, send poems to publications whose poems you like. Read journals to get an idea of where you’ll fit. “Look at the dart board before you throw darts,” Owens laughs.

Finally, he adds, read ten times as much as you write.

Persona



You don’t know me.

Me I keep locked up inside,

inside walls you have to gain access to

to have any sense of me.



Me you’ll see as smooth as stone,

stone as cold as ice,

ice that is impenetrable,

able only to be melted into.



To melt into me makes it my time,

my time to fall,

fall like any giant,

giant wall falling to reveal what lies inside.



Inside you’ll find a face,

face that mirrors your own.

Own what you see in what you thought,

thought would be the all of me.



All of me is the monster here.

Here is the monster.

The monster has always been here.
Here you’ll see the monster in me is you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

NCLR Publishes Review of Two of My Books

New Review of Two of My Books in North Carolina Literary Review

North Carolina Literary Review has published a review of two of my recent books in their newest issue. Karen K. Mason has reviewed both For One Who Knows How to Own Land and Something Knows the Moment alongside two of Robert Morgan's books in a review called "The Regional Poet and the World." The review can be read in NCLR's new online version of the journal: http://issuu.com/eastcarolina/docs/nclr2013-online-final-issuu_1_/82#download.

John Morgan Interviews Ann Chandonnet

John Morgan Interviews Ann Chandonnet
Vale, NC

My book is "Write Quick": War & a Woman's Life in Letters, 1835-1867, published by the Bethel Historical Society, Bethel, Maine. It is historical non-fiction, 600 pages, with 50 illustrations.

The book is the result of 20 years of genealogical research by my third cousin, Roberta Pevear. When Roberta phoned to say she had completed her work, she added, "You know, there are letters." After I read the more than 100 letters between Eliza Foster, her husband Henry Foster and her brother, Andrew Bean, I knew that they should be preserved in a book. Three of the letters were written by my great-great-great grandmother, Mabelia Foster Fox, Henry's sister and Eliza's sister-in-law. One of my three brothers lives in the same house that Mabelia lived in--and I spent my first 21 years in, and my other two brothers live on the same land grant she and her husband farmed.

I asked Roberta's permission to use these previously unpublished letters (and a wealth of other documents such as grocery lists and rent receipts) in a book. I would give her equal billing, and share with her whatever profits were made from the effort--if we found a publisher. She agreed. Her mother had saved these documents from the fire, literally, in the 1930s when a house was being cleaned out after a death. One of these documents was Eliza's 1863 diary kept in Lowell, MA., while Henry was serving in the Union infantry.

I began writing the book in Juneau. Halfway through the process, my husband and I retired to North Carolina. Now I had the opportunity to visit places mentioned in the letters like Gettysburg and Fort Sumter, and to do research in Civil War archives. In 2007 we made a research trip to Lowell, Massachusetts--my birth place, and the home of textile mills where Eliza worked. We also visited Bethel, Maine, where Eliza and Andrew were born; Roberta was born there as well.

My husband took photos for me along the way.

It took me four years to complete the book. After 16 submissions, I had a publisher.

If the book were made into a movie, I would choose Jude Law to play Andrew; Jennifer Lawrence to play Eliza; Betty Suarez to play Mabelia Fox; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to play Henry.

My synopsis: The story of a woman and the two men who loved her, played out against the backdrop of the War Between the States.

It took me two years to write the first draft, but I also garden intensively and quilt. The local libraries (Juneau and Hickory) did not provide sufficient sources, so I purchased some books myself. I also sent out thousands of queries via e-mail.

I decided to make this book a portrait of an ordinary, non-combatant, a Union woman --not a general or someone who led a charge of light horse. More books were written about the sufferings of Confederate women. Books have been written about New England's textile workers, but few follow their days after they leave the mills.

The majority of Union infantry units have histories written by their members. But Henry's unit did not. When putting together a list of his comrades in arms, I found that many of the names were repeated several times (with different spellings). Both armies kept records of officers who died, but no one kept records or ordinary soldiers. I discovered that many men were consigned to unmarked graves and their loved ones never knew what happened to them. Fortunately, in Henry's case, one of his comrades took the time to write to Eliza--even though he was wounded himself and his brother died in that same battle, at Winchester, Virginia. Winchester changed hands 70 times during the war. The book's annotated rosters make it valuable to relatives of other infantrymen.

Part of my inspiration was that I have family living in the exact spot where some of the letters were written. Eliza visited that farm, and her brother-in-law sold her firewood and provisions during the war. Four nieces and three nephews are growing up there, and the book would preserve a part of their family history. I dedicated the book to them.

I did not have an agent to represent the book. I did all the marketing to publishers myself, since I have a background as a publicist for Alaska Northwest Books. The publisher is the place where all the letters and artifacts (such as hair mourning bracelets, ledgers and period photos) are stored, the Bethel Historical Society.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sam Ragan Day

from the NC Poetry Society


Sam Ragan Day Meeting
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities, Southern Pines, NC

Poet and novelist Victoria Redel, the 2012–13 McGee Professor of Writing at Davidson College and the author of three books of poetry, including Woman Without Umbrella, will lead a generative workshop to help us find the exceptional within the ordinary in our writing. Award-winning humorist, Laura Moore, and acoustic music duo, Katie Oates and Cheryl Hoover, will round out an excellent day of craft and song.

Please mark your calendars with this illuminating day of poetry! To find out more about the program, visit http://www.ncpoetrysociety.org/events.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review of Daniel Nathan Terry's "Waxwings"

Review
by Scott Owens

WAXWINGS
Daniel Nathan Terry
Lethe Press
ISBN: 9781590213551

Daniel Nathan Terry’s book of poems, Waxwings, is a powerful exploration of the internal and external forces surrounding the phenomenon of personality development.

From the very first poem, “Scarecrow,” the reader is invited into an internal drama that begins with the recognition of identity as an artifact, a creation, a projection of the individual’s concept of self, tested, influenced, re-tested, and ultimately determined against the backdrop of familial and social expectations and pressures. Successfully employing an ambiguity that seems almost whimsical at the same time it is somehow disturbing, this modern-day Pygmalion refers to himself as “Scarecrow crafter, burlap-tailor, / black-eye smudger” and claims such prowess in his crafting that “crows mistake you for a man.” As in the original Greek myth of Pygmalion, the creator has a rather intimate relationship with the creation as he “fisted through your flannel” and “perfumed your thighs with summer sweet.” Not surprisingly given that level of intimacy, the distinctions between creator and created become blurred as the speaker worries about “flies . . . who do not care / if you are flesh or straw” and “the sun, the wind, the rain” which will “make fast work of you until your pie-pan hands / cease to flutter” and ultimately wonders “How long before the snow and I / take you down?”

The theme of personality development and the individual as identity-artist, treated metaphorically in this first poem’s conceit, is addressed more plainly in subsequent poems. In “Self-Portrait (Gay Son of a Preacher),” for example, the speaker desperately seeks redemption for, perhaps even salvation from, identity elements he has been taught to be ashamed of through such traditional religious concepts as baptism (“washed seven times in the river Jordan”) and communion (“He rises, joins the altar call”). In fact many of the poems in the first third of the book chronicle the speaker’s increasingly desperate attempts to reconcile his identity with the demands and expectations of a world that denounces and even disallows that identity, forming a collective narrative of a difficult childhood marked by taught shame and a reluctance to accept oneself because that self is deemed unacceptable to others. Thus in “Wicker Man” the speaker reflects, “if you believe the talk, you know your kind was consigned to the fire by God in the cities of the plain.” And in “Called colored, in my youth,” he explains, “I already knew I shouldn’t want to play with those boys, shouldn’t // want boys of any color the way I wanted the oldest of them.”

As the book progresses, the speaker experiences exile and loneliness, as in the beautifully simple-stated “Since they put you out”:

no chair receives you,
no bath invites you,
no stove pot simmers
you to supper, no mattress
gives to cradle you,
no down rises to fill
the empty spaces.

Eventually, with much work in the realm of human emotion including the losses that teach us better how to love, the speaker is able to move beyond the taught shame, the loneliness, and the uncertainty of a disallowed identity towards self-awareness, acceptance, and love of self and others. In a book of wonderful poems, the most wonderful embodies this entire process. “Snow falls in Hartsville,” is a brilliant linked sonnet sequence about love, self-knowledge and acceptance, illustrating how we come to be and accept who we are, narrated so evocatively that readers can’t help but feel, despite the uncommon details, that the speaker is relating their own story. Indicating the speaker’s arrival at the fulfillment of the self-discovery process, the poem concludes:

Now, I’d like to believe
I’m the man I was always meant to be—leaning in
to my lover, to my life, to the wonder
of having once been a man who loved a woman
who was almost the perfect man for me.

This vital story of self-realization that constitutes Waxwings is expressed through luminous, original, and breathtaking imagery and symbolism that make the book, regardless of subject-matter, just good poetry. Thus, in “Waxwings,” we hear of “thirty-seven waxwings / necklacing the telephone wire” who suggest to the speaker the possibilities of human collaboration and love as he imagines his disparate classmates “joined together in a star of arms and legs / that kaleidoscopes in the blackness” and longs to respond to the poetic urge developing inside him, to “read their characters on the white sky // until he understands, until they become a story / he can share.” And in “The Swan,” we see “one lone swan // chalked on the surface of the black water.” And in “Burning the Peach,” as the speaker prepares for the loss of a loved one, we know how it feels when he tells us, “Black smoke made invisible by the night invaded our throats, settled inside us like an unwelcome truth.”

Sometimes these days it seems popular culture suggests that drama is only conceivable against a sensationalistic backdrop of vampires or a zombie apocalypse or a teacher-turned-meth-cook. It’s refreshing to see real, familiar human drama, the drama of one’s struggle to enact selfhood, treated with the honesty, dignity, respect, relevance, and insight our lives, our human processes, truly deserve. Simply put, for both the process it dramatizes and the poetic brilliance it exhibits, Waxwings is the best book of poems I read in 2012, one that should be read by all, and one I will return to to read again and again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Two Upcoming Readings

First, I'll be on Wordplay with Jeff Davis this Sunday at 5:00. You can listen to it live at http://www.ashevillefm.org/wordplay or recorded at the same url for a week afterward. After that, you would have to wait until Jeff gets it added to the show's archives (which he'll tell you can take a while -- in fact, this is my fourth appearance on the show, and only of them has been archived so far).

Then, here is a flyer for my reading with Rand Brandes and Susan Woodring at the Bethlehem Branch Library on 2/28

Friday, February 1, 2013

Country Roads Exhibit and Reading

In the midst of everything going on with Shadows Trail Them Home, my new collaboration with Pris Campbell just published by Clemson University Press, Joe Young has put together an exhibit and reading for us based on our 2012 collaboration, Country Roads, Travels Through Rural North Carolina at the Burke County Arts Council. The reception, which will include a reading and discussion, will take place next Friday, February 8, 2013, at 5:00. Prints of Joe's photos and copies of the book will be available for purchase. The gallery is at 115 Meeting Street in Morganton. Here is a link to their website: http://www.burkearts.org/?page_id=33

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shadows Trail Them Home on Clemson University Press Website

You can now order copies of Shadows Trail Them Home on the Clemson University Press website. Of course, if you want it signed, you'll need to order it from me, or meet me at one of the readings I'll be giving in the next few months. Here is a link to the Clemson website:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shadows on Joe Milford Poetry Show

I was interviewed and read from "Shadows Trail Them Home" today on the Joe Milford Show. Here is a link to the show: Joe Milford Show.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Clemson University Publishes Hickory Poet's New Book

News on Shadows Trail Them Home in the Outlook today.

CLEMSON UNIVERSITY PUBLISHES HICKORY POET’S NEW BOOK

Clemson University has just released Hickory poet, Scott Owens’ 10th book, Shadows Trail Them Home. The book is a love story told through a narrative sequence of poems written by Owens and collaborator, Pris Campbell. This is the second collaboration Owens has produced with Campbell. The first, The Nature of Attraction, was published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company in 2010.

Owens describes Shadows Trail Them Home as “a novel told in 71 poems about the relationship of two characters created by two different writers who have themselves never met, nor even spoken in any capacity aside from email.”

Author and Clemson University Professor Emeritus, Ronald Moran, says of the book, “This is an important contribution to the cultural canon of American life, presented in an engaging (but disturbing) context.” And Suzanne Hudson, award-winning author of In the Dark of the Moon, states, “The story of Norman and Sara exposes innumerable shades of joy and pain in our deepest human drive—the one that dances us toward, away from, but ever-toward love.”

Owens, who teaches creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College, is a very active member of the local and state writing community. He serves as vice-president of both the NC Poetry Society and the Poetry Council of NC. He is the regional representative of the NC Writers’ Network, and the coordinator of Hickory’s Writers’ Night Out. He is the founder of Poetry Hickory and co-founder of the Art of Poetry at the Hickory Museum of Art. He is also editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234.

Owens’ previous books have included The Fractured World (Main Street Rag, 2008), Paternity (Main Street Rag, 2010), Something Knows the Moment (Main Street Rag, 2011), and For One Who Knows How to Own Land (FutureCycle Press, 2012). His work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/IndieLit Awards, and the Poetry Society of South Carolina.

The official release event for Shadows Trail Them Home will be held at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory from 2:00 to 4:00 on Saturday, January 26. Owens will be available to sign copies of the book, and will read a few of the poems aloud.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reading/Workshop Schedule Spring 2013

I'll be giving a few readings and leading a few workshops this spring. Here is a general schedule. Email me at asowens1@yahoo.com or call at 828-234-4266 if you're interested and want more details. Thanks to everyone who supports poetry by making these events possible as well as to those who attend.

14 January – April Creative Writing Workshop, Hickory, NC

18 January Joe Milford Poetry Show, http://www.thejoemilfordpoetryshow.com/

26 January Book Release Party for Shadows Trail Them Home, Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse, Hickory, NC, 2-4

28 February Scott Owens, Rand Brandes, and Susan Woodring at Bethlehem Library, Bethlehem, NC, 6-8

21 March Lazy Lion Bookstore, Fuquay-Varina, NC, 6-8

6 April Blue Ridge Writers Conference, Blue Ridge, GA, Workshops and Reading

14 June NetWest Writers Night Out, Hiawassee, GA

15 June Writers’ Circle Workshop, Hayesville, NC

23 June McIntyre’s Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC, 2:00