Friday, March 24, 2017
North Carolina Poetry Society hosts 15th annual Spring Literary Festival at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, on Mon., April 3, 2017and Walk into April, Sat., April 8, 2017 at Barton College, Wilson, NC
Walk into April will take place on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at Barton College in Wilson, NC. The North Carolina Poetry Society and the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series again celebrate our state’s accomplished poets. This year’s event features Bruce Lader and Beth Copeland as well as Amber Flora Thomas, Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for Down East. The program runs from 9:45 until 3:00. For more information contact Rebecca Godwin or Marty Silverthorne.
You can find the North Carolina Poetry Society's blog at: http://www.ncpoetrysociety.org
Monday, May 6, 2013
- Poetry with Kathryn Stripling Byer, North Carolina’s first woman Poet Laureate. Byer has published six full-length collections of poetry, including Descent (LSU Press, 2012), her most recent. A re-print of her first, the AWP Award-winning The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest, is forthcoming from Press 53. Her work has appeared in many journals and newspapers, including The Atlantic, Hudson Review, Boston Globe, and Georgia Review.
- Fiction with Elizabeth Lutyens. Lutyens returned to her native North Carolina after a career in the Boston area as a journalist in print and television. Her novel-in-progress, Medicine Island, was a semi-finalist in the 2011 William Faulkner – Wisdom Competition. A faculty member of the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC Asheville since 2006, she currently teaches its by-invitation Prose Master Class and is editor-in-chief of its online literary magazine, The Great Smokies Review.
- Creative Nonfiction with Catherine Reid. Reid is the author of Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst (Houghton Mifflin) and Falling into Place (forthcoming from Beacon Press); she has also edited two anthologies and served as editor of nonfiction for a literary journal. Her essays have appeared in such journals as Georgia Review, Massachusetts Review, Fourth Genre, and Bellevue Literary Review. She is currently the director of creative writing at Warren Wilson College, where she specializes in literary nonfiction and environmental writing.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Friday, April 30, 2010
My friend Mary Adams is such a good poet that words fail me. But they never seem to fail her.
By Mary Adams
When we were lonely
blessed us. Earth
filled us. Birth
welled like morning,
poured over the void
and we said
nothing could quiet this
urge, this riot, this
And then the doe
so wild going so
still, saw the brink
of wilderness sink
in our plenty, our
pity. Oceans for
which we longed dried
and our best laid
the world waste:
it wasn’t just
never enough love
that Jesus suffocated of.
-- after Mr. Lloyd Alexander, 1924-2007
To console you for growing old, I got you a gift
to take you out of time. Not poems, which are always
ending after they start. And not knitting,
which if worn you might wear out. The best
gifts are light, but not too light, and flow
everywhere, like the ache of debt. This year
your gift should signify the infinite.
So I got you kittens, tricked by your own fingers
from the wild. Because they compound eternally,
but warmer. Because a single box contains
all kittens till it’s opened. Because a kitten
mewing makes a butterfly make a tornado.
Because a knotting of kittens extends in a plane
forever. Because a dying kitten is
impossibly light, and a lost kitten’s cry
is bottomless. And since each kitten wells
with the cat of danger, we know every cat
wears kittens like an urge. None is ever
really lost. Then cats point both ways always.
Now you are grown, here are all your kittens,
new again, like money you found in the laundry.
Heft them gently. Feel in their small hearts
your trembling. Calm them in the morning
of your fears. When you are sad, speak
them like cadences, kitten of cross-fire,
kitten of backflip, kitten of glory, kitten of
clutching, kitten of pestering and plummet, spindly
kitten, hungry kitten, kitten of solace.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Mark you calendars now for the WCU Literary Festival! It begins on March 30 with a reading by Cherokee novelist Robert Conley and continues till April 2, concluding with a reading by naturalist writer Jan DeBlieu.
If you go to the festival website (litfestival.org), you can find the schedule, authors' bio's, and photos. I'll be sending more information as the festival draws closer.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Across town things weren’t nearly as quiet at the Will Sherrill house. Will was a lawyer and a tough one at that, and he ran his household the way he ran his law practice. Of late, however, things seemed to have gotten out of hand. The active social life of his older children was interfering with his rest, and they seemed to be coming home later and later at tonight. The week before he had called a family meeting and announced that the doors would be locked at exactly 11:00 P.M. There would be no more of this late night foolishness.
However, things had not worked out exactly as he had planned. He had gone to Glenville to meet with a client and had found the new client’s run of corn liquor greatly to his liking. He and the client had sat around after the meeting and enjoyed too many drinks, and time had slipped away. At 11:30 P.M., though he knocked and knocked, no one answered his own front door. He carried no key – they had never locked the doors before. He went around to the back and even to the side doors to no avail. As a last resort, he began yelling loudly, so loudly, in fact, that even the neighbors heard him. Finally, a light came on in a distant part of the house, and the slight figure of his wife approached the door.
He couldn’t believe it! Of course, he was always surprised by Mary’s strong side; he had to admit that. He just hated that he had been beaten by his own game. His wife such a quiet, peace-loving individual – so unlike him, and everyone in town loved her. It was to Mary that folks came if they needed to talk, for she was a wonderful listener, and all admired her wisdom. She always had a fire in the wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen, and a kettle of water always sat on top, ready to offer a cup of tea, and there were always good things to eat in the warming closet above the stove. In fact, Will could just taste some of those goodies right now. I might just be able to sleep if I had a warm glass of milk and a couple of her sugar cookies right now, he thought to himself.
It proved to be a long night for Will. He slept in his clothes of course, and was lucky enough to find two horse blankets for cover and fresh hay to lie on, but he had a difficult time falling asleep. He could not get comfortable no matter which way he lay. He also had a great deal on his mind. The next day he would have to present his closing arguments in a case that had proven to be long and ugly, and he needed to be at his best. A group wished to build a dam at Glenviile, and he was representing the environmentalists who did not want to see the beautiful stream dammed. He tossed and turned all night planning his closing remarks. “Gall durn it!” It was cold and he was uncomfortable. “How could he think in these conditions?” He also needed to relieve himself of several glasses of the homebrew he had consumed, but he hated to get out from under the warm covers – and that is when his closing statements formed in his mind.
The next day dawned clear and bright, and when Will got to the house, he found his breakfast on the table and everyone acting as though nothing unusual had happened. Except for an occasional look one child would give another or a slight upturned mouth, the meal went as usual. As soon as breakfast was over, he bathed, dressed, and left for the courthouse with his briefcase in hand.
He arrived in the courtroom about nine o’clock and found several people milling about. By nine –thirty the courtroom was full. The judge appeared soon after, and by eleven-thirty all witnesses had been called, and it was time for closing arguments.
He knew he was not going to win the case. The community needed the power plant too badly, and this was really the best place to build a dam.
What the hell, he thought, as he rose to approach the jury. He might as well enjoy the moment. Looking into the eyes of each man and woman in the jury box, he spoke of the pristine beauty of the mountains and the stream that would be ruined if this dam was built.
He spoke of the wildlife that abounded and the detriment to them, and he spent a great deal of time convincing the jury that the dam and power plant would not be everything they had hoped it would be.
When he felt he had the jury just where he wanted them, he delivered his closing remark. Letting his voice rise so that it could be heard by one and all he said, “And now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I wish to inform you that there is more water power below my belt than there will ever be in Glenville Dam,” and with that he turned and sat down.
Finally, the judge got his wits about him, gave the charge to the jury, and they filed out. Grabbing his papers, Will Sherrill made a dash for the door.
Monday, September 8, 2008
The Arts and Humanities Series at Blue Ridge Community College will present “the Raindrop Waltz” by award-winning playwright Gary Carden at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17. This free event will be in the Patton Auditorium.
“The Raindrop Waltz” is poignant and sweet, painful and funny. It captures a handsome picture of one Western North Carolina family through several generations based on Carden’s Jackson County childhood.
Agnes is a fiercely independent Appalachian grandmother who lives alone in the rustic cabin she has inhabited for many years. Because she is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and soon will be unable to care for herself, her family is faced with the difficult decision of moving her from her beloved mountain home to a nursing home. With great love and humor, Jody Lee, her grandson whom she raised, tells the story of his life and hers through memories of family tales, songs, loves and relationships.
This performance will be staged by Burnsville Little Theater that has a history of providing dramatic presentations for more than 80 years. Director Elizabeth Westfall will bring a performance that has been staged many times in Western North Carolina and beyond. Cast includes Elizabeth Westfall, Bob Wilson, Milton Higgins, Bill Wheeler, Bruce Chuvala, Colette Blankenship and Jennifer Issacs. Carden will also be present and available to answer questions after the performance.
A Sylva native, Carden was raised by his grandparents in a “house filled with the past.” From birth, he was steeped in untainted mountain culture, lore and language. He has investigated and evoked his native region in drama, rendering authentic presentations of the characters and of mountain history and folklore. In the many plays he has written, Carden portrays the mountain people from earlier eras with great devotion and compassion but also with uncompromising honesty.
Carden is also known as a folklorist and storyteller. He graduated from Western Carolina University and for the past 15 years has taught literature and drama, worked for the Cherokee Indians and has been a storyteller.
Recently, Carden was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by his alma mater, WCU. Widely acclaimed for his written works and spoken performances that bring to life the history, myths and legends of Western North Carolina, Carden is the author of “Mason Jars in the Flood and Other Stories,” the 2001 Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year.
This program is sponsored by the Community Enrichment Division in the Continuing Education Department. For more information, contact Martha Howell at 694-1743 or at http://www.blogger.com/.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
(Photo by The Sylva Herald)
A week ago, Western Carolina University recognized with an Honorary Doctorate one of its own, a writer who has enlivened the literary scene here in western North Carolina, not to mention the lives of its inhabitants, for over forty years. I say forty years, because I arrived in Cullowhee in 1968 to teach at WCU and shortly thereafter met our new honorary "Doctor." Gary Carden made my acquaintance with his story "Jedro Tolley," the main character racing wildly down the hill on his bike, screaming like a banshee and thus imprinting himself, and Gary, in my imagination forever. This author, I knew for sure, after only the first couple of paragraphs, was the real thing. We became friends, and over the last few decades, I've heard him tell his stories, at which he is a master, and I've watched his plays, goosebumps on my arms and tears, often, in my eyes. "Birdell," "Nance Dude,"and "The Prince of Dark Corners" have joined Jedro in that timeless place of imagination where all our voices come together and live on and on. And when the Prince of Dark Corners himself, Milton Higgins, walked into the dinner hosted by the Chancellor before graduation last Friday night, my skin tingled. My eyes widened. I had to touch the hem of his shirtsleeve! Which I did after dessert was served. And then he gave me a hug. I can't say that was the highlight of my evening, since Gary had earlier given me a hug. Let's just say I was doubly delighted by being in the presence of these two, the actor and the playwright.
(Actor Milton Higgins, in "The Prince of Dark Corners")
Gary has a blog at blogholler.blogspot.com. Here's how he introduced it last year when he began:
THE NEWS FROM BLOG HOLLER
I've been thinking about creating this blog for several years, but each time I typed a sentence I became self-conscious and deleted it. What could I possibly say here that hasn't been said by someone else? Not only that, but it has often been said with grace, beauty and conviction. Well, maybe that is my purpose ... or part of it anyway. I believe I need to pay tribute to all of the folks in Appalachia who have defined this region with integrity and authenticity. I am talking about the novelists, musicians, poets and essayists who create images, characters and sounds that resonate in my heart. Maybe I can render a valuable service by inscribing their names and commenting on their creations. That is one of my objectives, anyway. One other thing. If my language sounds pretentious and/or pompous, bear with me. I think I'll eventually get over it.
Growing up in an isolated cove, I became dependent on radio, comic books and the Ritz Theater. Like most kids of my generation, I sat transfixed in front of the old Silvertone each afternoon, listing to the Lone Ranger, Sargent Preston of the Royal Mounties and Jack Strong, the all-American boy. I collected Captain Marvel Comics, Superman, the Green Lantern and
Plastic Man. At night, I listened to Suspense, Inner Sanctum, the Shadow and Escape! Each Saturday, I sat in the front row of the Ritz, watching heroes like "Wild Bill" Elliott, Sunset Carson, Whip Wilson and Lash LaRue.
When I was a little girl, I sat, not in the front row, but in the middle of the Camilla Theater, watching Lash LaRue. And Roy Rogers. Lash was always my favorite. Maybe that's why Gary and I became friends! We both had the same taste in cowboys! And later on, the same taste in writers. Gary has given a great deal of his time to reviewing and promoting other authors, mostly with Appalachian ties, like my friend Isabel Zuber. Here are the three of us at City Lights Bookstore, where Isabel did a reading/signing to celebrate the publication of her first novel, SALT.
(Gary Carden, K. Byer, and Isabel Zuber at City Lights Bookstore)
Gary is taking his memorable "The Raindrop Waltz" to Hendersonville on September 17th. He has a play at SART which may be produced in Bryson City next year, titled "Outlander". "Prince of Dark Corners" is returning to the "real stage" with a performance in Highlands in November. "Nance Dude' will be the centerpiece of the Haywood Bicentennial Celebration in Waynesville this December and "Birdell" will be a fundraiser for NC Writers Network West in September. Gary is a past recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in drama. His stories and poems have been collected over the years. I encourage you to visit his blog to find out more about his writing, his upbringing, his honors, and his insights.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Gary Carden graduated from Western Carolina University near Sylva, NC. He taught literature and drama for fifteen years, worked for the Cherokee Indians for fifteen years and has become well-known as a playwright.
His popular play "The Prince of Dark Corners" has been made into a movie and has received high ratings from around the state. To learn more about Gary Carden, see his website, www.tannerywhistle.net.
WHAT THIS HOUSE REMEMBERS
By Gary Carden
I live in an old farmhouse that is literally falling apart. Each spring, clouds of termites rise in the bathroom and the bedroom, coating the windows and covering the kitchen stove and the mirrors in the bathroom with tiny wings – wings that clog my vacuum cleaner for weeks. In the winter, the wind woofs in the eaves, pours through the attic and seeps into my bedroom like an ice-laden river. All of the doors hang off-balance and a tennis ball, dropped in the living room will roll slowly from room to room – like a cue ball looking for a pocket – until, eventually, it find its way to the kitchen, always coming to rest behind the sink.
But, with each passing year, my affection for these canted floors and leaning walls deepens. I came to live here when I was two years old, and now, seventy years later, I still sleep in the same bedroom – the one my Uncle Albert dubbed “the North Pole.” The entire house bears testimony to the lives of my grandparents, and when I walk from room to room, I hear lost voices and sense fading warmth.
Just here, beneath this old flue, my grandmother tended her Home Comfort stove. And over there, on that cracked cement hearthstone, that once fronted a fireplace, I used to lie whimpering on winter nights – my cheek pressed against the warm hearthstone (I was plagued with chronics earaches) while my grandmother poured warm cod liver oil from a tablespoon into my ear. There, where my computer now sets, my grandfather used to tune the old Silvertone radio, listening to “Renfro Valley” on Sunday mornings. It is also where his coffin rested (for I lived in a time in which the dead came home for a final farewell).
The old house seems to be slowly sinking into the earth, dragging with it a roofless canning house and a derelict barn. Yet, there are brief moments – usually in the morning – when this dim space seems filled with a kind of tangible energy. There are mornings when I wake in the chilled air of my bedroom, sensing that I am not alone -that this empty shell has become an echo chamber. In the kitchen, my grandmother’s Home Comfort radiates warmth while she conjures red-eye gravy from a black skillet; cathead biscuits bloom in the oven and a tin coffee pot chuckles on the back burner. I feel my Uncle Albert’s discontent (he suffered from migraines) as he sits leaning back in a cane-bottomed chair at the dining room table, his chair legs gouging little half-moons in the linoleum. My grandfather is milking the cow, and any minute now, he will stomp into the kitchen with a bucket of steaming milk. From the living room comes the strains of Jo Stafford’s “You Belong to Me,” followed by the banter of Reed Wilson, WWNC’s popular early morning d. j.
Fly the ocean in a silver plane,
See the jungle when its wet with rain.
But when my foot touches the floor, it all vanishes … recedes like an ocean tide withdrawing down the corridors of the years; carrying away warmth, biscuits and my grandmother’s hands through the draft of a broken window. Sometimes, I move quickly to the barren kitchen, hoping to capture a belated fragment of what was here a moment ago – perhaps the last vestiges of Albert’s complaint lingers. (“Ahhh, God! I didn’t sleep a wink,” he says, as he massages his head). And here…who is this tow-headed creature in his peppermint striped pajamas? My God, it’s me! I’m on my way to Albert’s bedroom, where I will find a stack of lurid magazines beneath his pillow…Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Black Hawk and The Blue Beetle.
Is it possible that there are past moments that have taken refuge in these rooms? Are there moments that were fueled by such intense emotion, they hang suspended like banks of summer clouds, waiting for an alignment of hours, months and memory? My mother’s grief for my father’s murder is somewhere in this bedroom; my grandmother’s loss of a “blue baby;” the return of two sons from WW II haunts the front porch; an old, broken fiddle that played “The Waltz You Saved for Me” resonates faintly in the attic – are they all here like eavesdroppers in the next room, waiting for their cue to enter?
Perhaps a night will come when moonlight will penetrate the cobwebs on the attic window, touching the faded portrait of my father’s face; and he will turn to my mother, whispering – and the two of them will laugh. Then, a dozen specters will awake causing this old house to shudder as music, heat and the smell of red-eye gravy
floats in the summer darkness. Then, children’s footsteps will mingle with the slow trudge of the elderly, and blasts of snow, wind and heat will batter these walls as spring and winter collide and this old house finally explodes leaving nothing behind but the buzz of a solitary wasp freed from its prison behind an attic window.
Finally, this old house will mingle with fog and moonlight, drifting through the stand of hemlocks that encircles this dim cove where my homeless spirit will rise to meet the morning sun.