Notable Books by North Carolina Writers: March, 2006
An invitation. . .
I hope this "book of the month" feature does just that: reels in some books by North Carolina writers, most of them by poets -- but not always. Sharing books we like is one of the pleasures of life, as far as I'm concerned. It's like passing on a memorable recipe or a personal story of how some writer's words made the world become more alive, more mysterious, more hospitable. These books invite you to enter them and be a part of their experience.
-- Kathryn Stripling Byer, Poet Lariat, ex-cowgirl and devotee of Roy Rogers and Lash LaRue
The Man Who, by Anthony S. Abbott
(Charlotte, N.C.: Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2005)
Anthony S. Abbott's The Man Who, I believe, presents a triumph of the imagination, as Abbott (the man and the poet) tries to find words for what it's like to be human, to live with grief and loss -- and to long to make sense, however transitory, of one's predicament in the universe. Abbott's eye, dramatically dedicated to memory, attempts to balance contradictory experiences, endorsing words as necessary matter.
More than anything else, The Man Who presents Abbott's love of life, of words, particularly poetry in drama, as each plays on the other, creating one aesthetic shaped in pain and joy -- earned in the heart's and mind's experiences, hard out of one individual's struggle to say Yes to what the soul seeks. -- Shelby Stephenson
Shelby Stephenson's most recent book, Possum, is published by Bright Hill Press, 2004. He is the editor of Pembroke Magazine, based at Pembroke University, where he is a professor of English literature.
The Man Who Cannot Not Find Words
The man who cannot find words stares.
No point in asking why. All the whys
So what could he say to his friend? That at first
Then he knows what he must do.
The man who cannot find words puts on his coat
The Man Who Was Surprised into Sight
Good. He's paid his way. He enters the first
tears come when he sees the Renoir --
before in classes and in books, but
or you'll activate alarms. He walks through
Will she send the letter? Is it worth
"Oh my God," he says, and again, "Oh
at his implacable enemy -- Thomas Cromwell.
and looks up at Millet's peasant girl
no doubt. He wants to touch them, to feel
The sun shines on his red scarf. He
The Man Who Feels the Sleeves of the Snow
On the day after the snow
The Man Who Speaks to His Daughter on Her 40th Birthday
You see, I am already equivocating, ducking
If that's too hard, just tell me -- something.
Not the feather floating down trick, that's too common.
The teacher told me at the end of the day
now that all the nonsense about your ghostly reappearance
to think of you at fourteen or twenty-four
you would have cut your hair. Early this morning
or thirty-nine, give you a history. What would
Umbrella stand inside the door. Dripping coats
There you are, at forty, looking at me with so
"Sit down and rest." You place your hands
that's all. You tell me you'll come for me
And then, nothing but the steady fall of rain.
Pretty improbable, don't you think? Wouldn't
The Man Whose Mother Was a Boy
"When I was a boy," my mother used to say.
Maybe it was she who flew over the house
Anthony S. Abbott began teaching English at Davidson College in 1964. In 1990 he was named Charles A. Dana Professor of English. He served as the department's chair from 1989 to 1996. Davidson honored him for his teaching with the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1969 and the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award in 1997.
Mr. Abbott's major fields of interest are modern drama (he has directed eight plays for the Davidson Community Players), creative writing, and literature and religion. He is the author of two critical studies, Shaw and Christianity(1965) and The Vital Lie: Reality and Illusion in Modern Drama (1989). His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals including New England Review, Southern Poetry Review, St. Andrews Review, Pembroke, Tar River Poetry, Theology Today, and Anglican Theological Review. St. Andrews Press published his first book of poems, The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat, in 1989. St. Andrews published his second poetry collection, A Small Thing Like A Breath, in 1993, and his third, The Search for Wonder in the Cradle of the World, in 2000. In 2003 his first novel, Leaving Maggie Hope, won the Novello Award and was published by Novello Festival Press. The novel won the "Gold Award" from ForeWord Magazine in the literary fiction category.
Mr. Abbott is past president of the Charlotte Writers Club and the North Carolina Writers Network and also past chairman of the North Carolina Writers Conference. He has won the Thomas H. McDill Award of the North Carolina Poetry Society three times. In 1978 he was a William Atherton Scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Between 1985 and 1992 he served on the Governor's Committee for the North Carolina Awards. In 1996 St. Andrews College honored him with the Sam Ragan Award for his writing and his service to the literary community of North Carolina.
He is married to the former Susan Dudley of South Orange, NJ. They have three sons, David, Stephen, and Andrew, and seven grandchildren, James, Robert, Clara, Elliot, Henry, Josephine, and John.
Vanished, by Carolyn Beard Whitlow
(Detroit, MI: Lotus Press, Inc., 2005)
We have a siren who lives by metaphor, all the neighborhoods she's occupied, traversed, transcended . . . . This is a poet with fluency and cadence in prosody, an inclination toward Motown and the blues, but feints in sestina and villanelle for both circularity and word-play. She attends to organization, in units, as increment, as progression: so many losses, frustrations, but beneath the gloss of voicings "within the veil," a prideful storytelling in oragami detail: all in her own idiom. In her world one can become one's own parents and kinfolk, the ancestors singing. -- Michael S. Harper
Michael S. Harper is the author of more than ten books of poetry, including two -- Images of Kin and Dear John, Dear Coltrane -- which were nominated for the National Book Award. He was the first Poet Laureate of the State of Rhode Island (1988-1993) and has received many other honors, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing fellowship. Mr. Harper is University Professor and Professor of English at Brown University, where he has taught since 1970. He lives in Barrington, Rhode Island.
I travel through books, afraid to go outside.
a sightless pilot cited for steering blindly.
Woman orbits man; in stasis, he has the control.
man, he's a train, fast, he slides where a pilot
Mother loved Bartlett & Anjou,
Wrapped packages at John Wanamaker's
Lindy Hopped to Detroit, slipped
Struck by the sparsity,
...Moses, I think...same as my father.
Secrets the only legacy.
You handle me like I'm a local call.
to tell you so. So I answer the phone,
your line old as an old simile, stale
not to wish you would not stop stop not
laugh in another language, hung phone screaming,
to love, my mind stalled with graffiti,
Mantra in the Morning
I went away and met myself a new
for a change, no more tourist in your own life,
self, woman with voice for a change, virtuoso,
For a change go away, change if you want to,
brand, no one knew me, brand new me,
at seven, or seventy, change, seven come
Moonshine in the sun shine,
Cock crow in the hen house --
An' you a sweet som'in, Daddy,
Say, you a sweet som'in, Poppa,
But when I starts to lovin'
Need more coffee in my coffee, Honey,
Coffee black, Honey,
Wanna feel, when you lovin' me, Daddy,
Boat be rockin' even on dry land.
Current take me under,
Ain't had no lover las' some years
Ain't had no lovin' last for years
Gon' find another lover,
Sunshine sinkin' in moonshine
Moonshine drownin' in sunshine,
Cock, Crow, in the henhouse
-- for Sherley Anne Williams,
Carolyn Beard Whitlow is Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Guilford College, in Greensboro, where she teaches creative writing and African-American literature. A finalist for the 1991 Barnard New Women Poets Prize and the 2005 Ohio State University Poetry Prize, she won the 2006 Naomi Long Madgett Prize in Poetry. The prize included publication by Lotus Press of the winning manuscript, Vanished. Ms. Whitlow wrote her first poem while a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University and subsequently completed the M.F.A. at Brown University, where she won the Rose Low Rome Memorial Prize in Poetry, and was named Phi Beta Kappa Poet in 1989. Lost Roads published her first collection of poems, Wild Meat, in 1986, and her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Ms. Whitlow was one of ten North Carolina poets to appear in the 1997 WUNC-TV series "Poetry Live," hosted by Charles Kuralt. She has had two residencies at Yaddo and has also been a fellow at Cave Canem.