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Showing posts with label Julia Nunnally Duncan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Julia Nunnally Duncan. Show all posts

Monday, April 26, 2010

POET OF THE DAY: JULIA NUNNALLY DUNCAN

Julia Nunnally Duncan has been a friend for many years. Her work came to my attention when I was on the reading committee for the Appalachian Consortium Press and found her story collection Blue Ridge Shadows in my hands. I liked it so much that I contacted her after the selection process. We've been in touch ever since. Julia was born and raised in WNC. Her credits include five books: two short story collections (The Stone Carver; Blue Ridge Shadows); two novels: (When Day Is Done; Drops of the Night) and a poetry collection (An Endless Tapestry).

She has completed a second poetry collection At Dusk and continues to write and publish poems, stories, and personal essays. Her works often explore the lives of the unemployed, the socially outcast, the lonely. She lives in Marion, NC, with her husband Steve, a woodcarver, and their eleven-year-old daughter Annie. She studied creative writing at Warren Wilson College's MFA Program for Writers and teaches English at McDowell Technical Community College in Marion, NC.

English Leather Lime

The rectangular box was stored

in my parents’ dresser drawer,

kept perhaps to hold loose change

or sales receipts,

too small to be very useful

but well enough made

of light soft wood

to make my mother think

it too important to throw away.

I pulled it from the drawer

while looking for some high school memento

from my cheerleading days,

and opening the box and holding it

to my nose,

I thought I caught the smell:

a citrus scent evoked

by the illustration of a lime

on the green label:

English Leather Lime.

The cologne the box once housed

had belonged to my brother

forty years ago.

I recognized that scent

in 1969

when the handsome

seventeen-year-old boy—

star of a rival basketball team—

passed through my parents’ front door

on a November evening.

It was my first date,

and I was afraid

to sit alone in the living room with him,

so my mother stayed close by

in the kitchen

while he courted me.

On our second date, though,

I savored our closeness

as we sat in his car

at our town’s drive-in theater

and awaited the film Thunder Road.

The speakers crackled B.J. Thomas’s

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,

and when rain suddenly began to fall outside,

we looked at each other and smiled.

When the movie started,

he scooted closer and

coyly rested his dark head

on my shoulder,

his lime cologne mingling with the remnants of my

Love’s Fresh Lemon Cleanser.

He might have kissed me in a moment,

but when he reached to turn the ignition key

for heat and windshield wipers,

the engine would not start.

After that, he rushed around,

some tool in hand,

tinkering for a minute under the hood

and then trying the ignition again.

His efforts were useless, though,

and as if to admit defeat

he finally called his father

and then mine—

a courageous move indeed

since he was supposed to have taken me

to our warm downtown theater

to see Kurt Russell starring in

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.

When my father did drive up

in our red Mustang

to rescue me,

I never heard goodbye

from the boy

who huddled beside his father,

their heads bowed under the car hood,

both of them soaked and shivering

in the December rain.

Lady in the Truck

Lady in the Chevrolet truck,

parked beside me at Wal-Mart,

I can tell by the way

your blonde head leans against your window pane

and your side presses into the passenger door

that you cannot get far enough away

from the driver.

I know by the angle of his head,

the way his dark tangle of hair

shakes when he shouts at you,

that his anger couldn’t wait

until he took you home.

What are you thinking

when you peer out of the grimy window?

Do you take to heart

this man’s hard words?

Do you hurt when his fingers squeeze your arm

to make you listen?

I can see by the way he looks straight ahead now,

tight lipped,

leaning to start the ignition,

that though his rage is not over,

he has spoken his mind.

I see by the way your head is lowered,

your hand covering your face,

that you do not want him

to spy your pain.

You are a young woman still,

and though I can’t discern your face,

I know it is a face

that another person could love.

Your mouth could smile at a lover’s whisper;

your eyes close at a caress.

Yet more so I know that

tonight when this man

pushes his body

close to yours

in your sweltering bed,

his voice calm,

cajoling you back,

you will look at him

and hope that his words

won’t be so cruel again,

that his love might be

worth your faith.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Byer, Duncan, and Woloch at Malaprop's Bookstore this Sunday




Two reading/signing events are scheduled for this weekend, both featuring Cecilia Woloch and Kathryn Stripling Byer. On Saturday Night, Byer, Woloch, and Mary Adams will read from their new books at Cith Lights Bookstore at 7:00. Mary Adams chapbook Commandment was recently published in the Spring Street Editions Chapbook Series.








On Sunday, December 6, 2009, Malaprop's Bookstore/Café (55 HaywoodStreet in downtown Asheville, NC) will host poets Kathryn StriplingByer reading from ARETHA'S HAT: INAUGURATION DAY, 2009; Julia NunnallyDuncan with AN ENDLESS TAPESTRY and new, unpublished poems; andCecilia Woloch, author of CARPATHIA.








Kathryn Stripling Byer, poet laureate of North Carolina from 2005through June 30, 2009, was born in Southwest Georgia but moved to NorthCarolina in 1968 and has lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains ever since.She is the author of five poetry books, including COMING TO REST(2006), and most recently (in collaboration with Penelope ScamblySchott) of the chapbook ARETHA'S HAT: INAUGURATION DAY, 2009. Writingon the topic "Why We Love North Carolina" for the February 2009 issueof Our State magazine, Kathryn Stripling Byer noted these particularhighlights of her term as Poet Laureate: the "generous community of[North Carolina] writers . . . who continue to amaze me with theirtalent and energy" and most of all, "the students I've met in ourschools . . . these young faces looking back at me, ready to say whothey are. May we all listen well to them." As poet laureate, KathrynStripling Byer's primary goal was to "help make poetry accessible in asmany ways as I could," through frequent visits to schools and withwriting groups; appearances at bookstores, literary events, and avariety of public celebrations; a regularly updated poetry page on theNorth Carolina Arts Council web site; and her own generous laureateblog -- as well as by continuing to write and give public readings of herown poetry. In the process, she has demonstrated the perseverance andconstant delicate balance of energies required to lead a very publiclife as a dedicated writer. Asked why she writes poetry, she recentlyreplied, "It's the best way I know to sing with the world" (Writer'sDigest interview with Robert Lee Brewer, July 2009). We are very happyto welcome Kathryn Stripling Byer back to "sing" her poetry at Malaprop's.












Julia Nunnally Duncan writes both poetry and fiction. She haspreviously published two collections of stories and a novel, and hersecond novel, WHEN DAY IS DONE, is just out from March Street Press.Her Appalachian poems have appeared in scores of literary journals,and her first published collection of poetry, AN ENDLESS TAPESTRY(2007), was named a finalist for the 2008 Roanoke-Chowan Award forPoetry. She recently completed the manuscript for a second collectionof poems, AT DUSK. Rob Neufeld, book columnist for The AshevilleCitizen-Times, wrote of Julia Nunnally Duncan that she is one of fourWestern North Carolina "poets to watch." He remarked that her poems"make the greatest possible use of line breaks, so that individualphrases glow like haiku observations. Metaphors develop naturally and emotionally." In a recent article in North Carolina Literary Review, Jeffrey Franklin observed of AN ENDLESS TAPESTRY, "Duncan always makes the place solid, the people real, the situation, in all its emotional complexity and perilousness, rendered with a deceptive simplicity that quietly resonates. . . .[Her] people are as recognizably human as any in Shakespeare[.]" Like our other readers for December 6, Julia Nunnally Duncan is at once a dedicated writer and an experienced teacher; she has served as a full-time English instructor at McDowell Community College for nearly two and a half decades. At Malaprop's, she will read selections from AN ENDLESS TAPESTRY and from her manuscript, AT DUSK.














CARPATHIA is Cecilia Woloch's fifth poetry collection. Published in2009, it went into a second printing about two months after itsofficial publication date. Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize-winningpoet, has written of CARPATHIA, "The poems . . . are guided by anexquisite lyricism and heartbreaking emotional honesty. . . . This isa gorgeous book by a poet who is passionately alive in the world."Cecilia Woloch has traveled widely and taught just as widely, offeringpoetry workshops for children and adults across the United States andin several locations abroad. She serves as a lecturer in creativewriting at the University of Southern California and is foundingdirector of the Paris Poetry Workshop. The recipient of numerousawards for her writing, teaching and theatre work, in 2009 alone,Cecilia Woloch has been recognized as a finalist in the CaliforniaBook Awards of The Commonwealth Club of California for her 2008chapbook, NARCISSUS; as a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize inPoetry at Nimrod; as the first prize winner of the New Ohio ReviewPrize in Poetry; and as a Fellow at the Center for InternationalTheatre Development/US Artists Initiative in Poland.








Please join us in welcoming three distinguished poets on December 6,and begin your holiday season with poetry!Poetrio: Kathryn Stripling Byer, Julia Nunnally Duncan, Celia WolochSunday, December 6, 2009, 3:00 p.m.Malaprop's Bookstore/Café55 Haywood StreetAsheville, NC 28801(828) 254-6734www.malaprops.com