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Showing posts with label Southern Environmental Writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Southern Environmental Writers. Show all posts

Friday, December 3, 2010

THE GIFT OF POETRY FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Janisse Ray's " A House of Branches"

Before she became the acclaimed author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Wild Card Quilt and Pinhook, Janisse Ray was a poet, a calling she has never abandonedd. Nor has it abandoned her. How heartening, therefore, to see her first love given its full-throated voice in Waking in the Forest! These poems are indeed about waking up, looking around at the world, and discovering how to live within it. Often they seek relationship with that world, speaking to the birds, for example, and begging of them, "Oh kinglet, Oh oriole/tell us what you know.” Janisse Ray know show to listen to what our world has to tell us, and she knows how to transform that listening into language that kindles our imagination, which after all desires nothing less than to be utterly alive in our landscape. “No matter how rich/we become, or old,/ or unable, won’t /some part of us desire to weave/a basket in which to forage/the last of the grapes? “ the poet asks. Ray’s poems weave for us such a basket. They show us how to gather and cherish the things of this world.

Born in Southeast Georgia, Janisse has given many presentations in the WNC mountains and is a frequent lecturer at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa.

To order this book, go to Wind Publications, where Charlie Hughes, poet and editor, runs one of our best regional small presses. Or for a signed copy, order directly from Janisse Ray, 895 Catherine T. Sanders Rd., Reidsville, GA 30453. $16 for paperback, $27 for hardback (includes shipping.)

(Janisse Ray talking with my brother, Charles Stripling, at the Joseph F. Jones Ecological Center in Baker County, Georgia)

Riding Bareback Through the Universe
The earth does not move steadily,
spinning at one speed through the heavens,
but with the motion
of a wild stallion at full gallop
across a painted desert,
which is sweep and fall, sweep and fall.
The earth is waltzing.
Its cloud-tail streams behind like a comet’s.
Not only the earth. Every heavenly body
once thought steady, plodding even,
flings itself along with senseless joy.
In the sky an ecstasy of stars
stampedes through the universe.
You and I ride standing
on the back of earth,
feet firmly planted, side by side,
our love for this life
so thunderous and billowing
so wild and powerful
we finally understand celestial motion.
Around us thousands of leaves
leap up and down on their stems
and summer flowerheads
surge with the wind.

B