Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG, MOUNTAIN WOMAN, WHERE YOU WILL FIND UPDATES ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MY KITCHEN, IN THE ENVIRONMENT, IN MY IMAGINATION, IN MY GARDEN, AND AMONG MY MOUNTAIN WOMEN FRIENDS.




Friday, March 25, 2016

HOLY WATER

HOLY WATER

SUZANNE CLEARY


In January of this year I had the good fortune to meet poet Suzanne Cleary, who teaches in the low residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Converse College.   I had known of Suzanne's work earlier, but being a Visiting Writer during this winter's residency gave me the opportunity to get to know her personally, if only for a little while.  Her warmth, her intelligence, and her obvious engagement with the students in the MFA program impressed me. And, of course, her poetry.  A couple of weeks after my visit, she sent me a signed copy of her latest book, Beauty Mark,  from BkMk Press.

Dorianne Laux, of  the Creative Writing department  at NC State, has  described Suzanne's work  as reflecting "a keen and sensitive mind, her images gleaned from the tangible world. " This is undeniably true, so trying to select only one poem to feature on this blog has been difficult.   Nevertheless, onsidering that today is Good Friday, with Easter Sunday a mere hours away, no poem has resonated as strongly for me right now as the one titled Holy Water.  "God," she declares,  through her grandmother's small vial of  holy water, has been transformed into "something close, and ordinary,/ and simple, and here."  The concluding descriptives overflow, like  water itself, spilling into the all-important "here."  As Richard Wilbur once wrote, "Love  calls us to the things of this world."  And isn't "God" nothing less than love?   On this holy weekend, I hope we can find that love in the smallest, most everyday things,  "a little pocket of heaven" in a hairbrush resting  on the dressing table, a stray sock, the smell of clean towels, the first stroke of light on the bedroom wall come Easter morning.


HOLY WATER


At Easter every year
the priest poured a small vial of it
for each family in the parish

my grandmother pouring hers
into a silvery blue font
inside her bedroom door

a little pocket of Heaven
into which she dipped her hand
each time she entered the room

touching just her fingertips
to the ordinary water
blessed by the priest

and surely blessed also
by my grandmother
as she took the water

to her forehead and to her heart
and then to each shoulder
of her plaid housedress

then pressed her fingertips
to her mouth
for a quick kiss

never stopping, never breaking her stride
as she balanced a pile of folded towels
or swept my grandfather's slippers

to their place beside the bed,
or gave me the fancy hairbrush
she kept on top of the bureau

my grandmother never wondering, it seemed,
what miracle had transpired
to make the water holy

perhaps her wonder taken entirely
by the powdery smell of the towels
or the clean scent of my hair

but that would be to doubt
the capacity of my grandmother
for wonder, for love,

for love and wonder are the same thing,
what the priest felt, I believe,
as he held his hands above the water

and felt the transformation
from the tips of his fingers
and all down his arms

as the water changed God
into something close, and ordinary,
and simple, and here.


Suzanne Cleary,  from Beauty Mark, BkMk Press, 2013

Visit Suzanne's website at suzanneclearypoet.com

Friday, March 18, 2016

SLEEPING IN THE FOREST, STUDENT PROMPT # 5


AS WE DRAW CLOSER TO THE APRIL 1 DEADLINE FOR THE GREENING UP THE MOUNTAINS POETRY CONTEST, I'D LIKE TO SHARE ONE OF MY FAVORITE POEMS BY THE POET MARY OLIVER.  SHE HAS WON BOTH THE PULITZER PRIZE AND THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR HER WORK.  SHE VISITED WCU QUITE A FEW YEARS AGO TO READ AND VISIT CLASSES.

I'VE ALWAYS LOVED TO CAMP, WATCHING THE FIRE DIE OUT, CRAWLING INTO OUR TENT, AND LISTENING TO THE FOREST SOUNDS AROUND ME (IF THE NEARBY CAMPERS ARE NOT PLAYING THEIR MUSIC TOO LOUD!)  BEFORE I FELL ASLEEP.

 ONCE A MOTHER BEAR AND HER TWO CUBS WOKE US UP, AND THAT WAS NOT A PEACEFUL EXPERIENCE.  THE TENT WAS SHAKING, THE BEARS WERE GRUNTING AND SNUFFLING. NEXT MORNING, OUR NEIGHBOR TOLD US THAT THE MOTHER HAD CLIMBED UP ON HIS MOTOR CYCLE AND LOOKED AS IF SHE WAS GETTING READY TO ROAR OFF.

TRY TO CALL UP SOME OF YOUR SENSORY EXPERIENCES WHILE SLEEPING OUTSIDE, WHETHER IN YOUR BACKYARD OR AT A CAMPGROUND.  WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO SLEEP ON THE EARTH, WHAT SORTS OF THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE? DO THEY FLOAT LIGHT AS MOTHS, AS OLIVER WRITES, OR DO THEY SKITTER AROUND LIKE MOSQUITOES?  OR HAUNT YOU, LIKE THE HOOT OF AN OWL?  WHAT DO YOU HEAR?  WHAT DO YOU SMELL?  IS THERE A CREEK NEARBY?  CAN YOU HEAR THUNDER?  OR RAIN?

THEN WRITE YOUR OWN POEM ABOUT SLEEPING IN THE FOREST, RIGHT HERE IN OUR BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS.  




Sleeping in the Forest 

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

from Sleeping In The Forest by Mary Oliver 

© Mary Oliver


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016 GREENING UP THE MOUNTAINS STUDENT POETRY AWARDS NOW OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS


THE 2016 GREENING UP THE MOUNTAINS STUDENT POETRY AWARDS IS NOW OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS BY JACKSON COUNTY STUDENTS.    THE FOLLOWING POSTS WILL BE DEVOTED TO FORMER WINNERS OF THE CONTEST, AS WELL AS SUGGESTIONS FOR POETRY PROMPTS FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS.  I will be posting the guidelines for submission in the next couple of days. Deadline is April 1.   Stay tuned.  

2015 GREENING UP THE MOUNTAINS STUDENT POETRY AWARDS

        Greening Up The Mountains Student Poetry Contest
                                                 April 25, 2015






High School Winners: 
Abigail Zuelch, SMHS, Dianne Gholson
Brittany Davis, SMHS, Gholson
Chasity Bark, SMHS, Gholson 
Kayla Cochran, SMHS, Gholson

High School Honorable Mentions:
Tiffany Bennett, SMHS, Gholson
Kendall Rhymer, SMHS, Gholson

5-8 Winners:
Cierra Wolfe, SME, Faithe Giaquinto 
Anna Ruth Hills, SC, Tara Williams
Taleigh Verrault, SC, Amanda Eichhorn
Shea Wargo, CV, Lora Cox

5-8 Honorable Mentions:
Calista Cruea, CV, Lora Cox
Alice Stephens, CV, Kristin Menickelli
Carson Frady, CV, Jennifer Patten

K-4 Winners:
Katona Fabian, CV, Lori Wright
Tyra Sterling, CV, Gretchen McCue
Lulu Garcia Santiago, CV, Gretchen McCue
Class Poem, CV, Carly Borchelt and Jennifer Powell
Class Poem, CV, Sandra McMahan

K-4 Honorable Mentions:
Zeke Brown, CV, Erin McDaniel
Carly Hester, CV, Drew Solesbee
Elijah Morgan, CV, Gretchen McCue


On display:  poetry and artwork by Holly Rowan’s third- and fourth-graders at Fairview School.
High School:

Winter


And so you lay there,
ragged and raw, bleeding
brown, orange, red, copper blood,
 jagged droplets
that trace a phantom breeze.

There are the evergreens.
They’re watching, mourning.
When the sun sets chill
and snowfall
will forge a frozen casket.

There’s a sort of sleep
that isn’t sleep,
a death that isn’t death.
Shivering and alone
the mind embraces hollow shadows.

But cuts are closing.
You are rocked
by the ice that burns your skin.
It will hold you, 
and kiss your head with ever bluing lips.

Then the snow melts
you will reach
like a flower towards the sun.
Scars cast shadows,
but like the roots only show where you’re coming from.

And if the summer
burns you slowly
and you drown in autumn blood,
breathe, just breathe;
The ice only lasts ‘till the healing’s done.


Abigail Zuelch, 10th grade, SMHS








Comparison


Maybe it was the slurring words of women
Or the meaty hand of a man.
Maybe it was the bruises or stinging skin
Or the dark, brooding skies.
Maybe it was the low self-esteem
Or the hopeless feeling.
Just maybe it could be the laughter
Or the way the sun heats the world with rays.
Maybe it’s the birds’ song
Or the feeling of lips on my skin.
Maybe it’s the tall green grass
or the patter of a horse’s hooves
A mix of both, 
Coating the only world we knew.


Brittney Davis, 10th grade, SMHS






About Rain


It’s dark and cloudy as the rain comes in.
It’s like the sky is crying for us.
The rain is like tears of the small children who have been forgotten.
Hearing the rain hit the roof reminds me of the ticking
clock in a small class room.
The splashes from the cars are like the forgotten children
playing in the rain puddles.
When the rain goes away it’s as if the children leave with it.





Chasity Bark, 12h grade, SMHS



She Is Me But She is Not Me





She has beaten me many times.
She is stronger than me.
She knows everything about me.
Including my deepest secrets.
She takes advantage of my strength.
She has taken the last little bit of voice I have.
She haunts my dreams.
Always lurking in the shadows of every twist and turn.
But no more will I be scared.
I will beat her.
I know her.
I know all of her moves.
Every day I will get stronger.
EVery day I will bring in more light, so she can no longer linger in my dreams.
For she will not be there.
I have pushed away her bad thoughts.
She will no longer control MY life.
I am better than she is.
I will win this time.
I know she will lose, because she is the old me.
I AM THE NEW ME!





Kayla Cochran, 9th grade, SMHS










Honorable Mentions:


Sweet Sadness


It felt like a hand
Was crushing my
heart.
Yet I took it
And welcomed 
An old friend.

Sadness swept
Over me
Like a blanket
Of Snow
on a cold morning.

I did not run.
There was he
Helping this
Lonely depression.

All you can do
Is climb  out of
The black hole or
Slip deeper in.

It is never easy.
It is always there.
Sometimes hiding out,
Other times you let it
Consume you whole.

You do not deserve
This treatment,
But you think
You do.


Tiffany Bennett, 10 grade, SMHS




Luminescent


This is no longer a book;

Its pages have been cut, ripped, torn, taped and painted.

Its stories are no longer here.

But they still live on in the hearts of whoever has read this book.

This book has been transformed into a work of art.

It now holds a new story...

A story about my dreams, my hopes and my hard work.

This book is a stage where my imagination can roam freely.

Where it is allowed to take the form of anything it wants.

This is no longer a book.

It’s a portal to my soul, this is where my soul is illuminated.

This is a window to the workings of my brain the the thoughts

that pass through it.





Kendall Rhymer, 12th grade, SMHS








GRADES 4-8 Top Four:

                   UNTITLED 1-3                                       
                 Untitled #1                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                        Each night Father fills me with dread
                        When he sits on the foot of my bed,                                                            
                         I’d not mind that he speaks
                         In gibbers and squeaks,
                         But for seventeen years he’s been dead.


                         All Monsters Are Human

                         It’s all a nightmare
                         And you can’t wake up

                         Lies like scars on your soul
                         They destroy you

                         Monsters
                         Don’t sleep under
                         Your bed
                         They scream
                         Inside your head.

                        You’re the only light I’ve ever known.

                         Untitled #2

                         Growing up is a scary, scary thing
                         The real world is a scary, scary place
                         I’m starting to wonder if anyone is actually
                         Prepared for real life.

                         Untitled #3

                         Beauty is also
                         About the way you
                         Move, speak and
                         Express yourself.
                         It’s about good health,
                         Warmth, spontaneity
                         And charisma.

Cierra Wolfe, 8th grade, Smokey Mountain Elementary




She

She was beautiful
in her very own way

She never cared what others
Had to say

She dreamed and
with the flowers she would sway

She thought of places 
Far Away

And just like pollen
in the summer breeze

It would pick her up
And carry her away.




Anna Ruth Hill, 8th grade, Scotts Creek School





The Whispering Trees


The whispering ttress high in the mountains
If you listen you can hear
why I gallop to and fro, why do I, you ask,  well...
Here’s a little secret
For the whispering trees well
You may know them as the...
 Smoky Mountain Trees.



Shea Vargo, 5th grade, Cullowhee VAlley




Wonders of Spring



The grass so green
The sky so blue
Wonders of spring
For me and you

The mist fades away
The joys of spring we share
Flowers start to sprout
And bloom everywhere

As the sun goes away
The moon will come out
Crickets start to chirp
The fireflies fly about

This was the end
Of a perfect spring day
But maybe next time
The sun will come and stay



Taleigh Verrault, 8th grade,  Scotts Creek School, 




Honorable Mentions:

Prayer: for the Mountains


Sometimes I wonder why bears are bears
and why fish are fish, but I love the mountains, that’s all
I got to say.  I love the mountains every day.
Sometimes I can’t help sticking my toes in the water
    and eating the honeysuckle blossoms.  
      I love the mountains and the birds as they sing. 
       I love watching my dog leap and be free
     And watching my sister run away from the bees!



Calista Cruea, 5th grade, Cullowhee Valley







The Smoky Mountains



These tall giants tower over us like skyscrapers.
Their rich soil grows lush plants and trees.
These mountains protect us from the dangers of the storms.
They give us humans and animals shelter.
The see these mountains as just chunks of land
but they are more than that, they are a part of our heritage.
These are the Great Smoky Mountains.




Carson Frady, 6th grade, Cullowhee Valley








Mountains
They live taller than a skyscraper!
   I grew up in the mountains.
They can be GIGANTIC and they can be small.
But the most beautiful thing about them is 
    that they are not man-made.  They grow by themselves.
    It doesn’t matter about their size or beauty.
   I just matters that we keep them healthy
and not throw trash on the ground of our beautiful mountains.
    So please don’t mess them up!
 Please help them stay how they are
so they can keep their beautiful animals and rivers
           trees and grass!
     Please love and take care of them!


Alice Stephens, Cullowhee Valley

   


  
Grades K-4: 


Song for the Mountains
                                            
             

I laugh
I cry
I dance around the mountains
I run
 I play
I sing a song for the mountains
I live
I love
I love the mountains

 Lulu Garcia Santiago, Cullowhee Valley



My Stinky Feet


My feet  my feet  my stinky feet
I light and I play on
My feet All day
Nothing can stop me oh not today
I go to the mountains
To play all day
I go to my bed and shut my
Eyes and go to sleep
And then pet my sheep.





Katona Fabian
Cullowhee VAlley, 3rd grade




The Mountains



I run
I play
I dance all day
I laugh
I cry
I sing a lullaby
I roll in the grass so fine
I wish it could be mine
All these things I do are fun
I do them in the mountains


Tyra Sterling, 4th grade, Cullowhee VAlley





My Mountains  (Class Poem)



Make Me Happy

Oh I love the Mountains

Under the Shiny Stars

Never stay the Same

The Mountains are Beautiful

Amazing to Mee

It’s Spring on the Mountain

New Leaves on the Trees

Sometimes Blue




Mrs. Madill & Mrs. Irwin’s Kindergarten, Cullowhee Valley School








MOUNTAINS  (Class poem)


Morning fog

On the river going by

Under the cloudy sky

Nothing else comes

They are so beautiful

And the sun peeps through

I love mornings on the mountain

Never stays the same

Stars come



Mrs. Borchelt’s & Mrs. Powell’s Kindergarten
Cullowhee Valley School






Honorable Mentions:


The Smoky Mountains


The Smoky Mountains are home to many rivers
but none like the Tuckasegee.
I love to play in the river because
it brings back many memories
of when my papa George used to play
   in the river,
but he died of cancer.
I fish in the river where I caught my first fish.
But when the rain raises the river, it can get very dangerous.
   When my life is done, I’ll ask the Lord
for me to see one last river
and it will be the Tuckasegee.


Zeke Brown, Cullowhee Valley, 3rd grade




I HEAR MUSIC

I HEAR MUSIC ACROSS THE STREET.
I START TAPPING THE BEAT
WITH MY FEET
I HEAROLD JOE CLARK AND THE CRAWDAD SONG,
                           THEN I GET MY GUITAR AND PLAY ALONG
                                  FIDDLE, BANJO, MANDOLIN TOO,
               THE SONG IS SO HAPPY SO WHY ARE YOU BLUE?
THE SONGS ARE TRADITIONAL, YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN.

I HAVE TO END AND SAY GOODBYE

BUT I WILL KEEP SINGING TILL MORNING IS NIGHT.



CARLY HESTER, 4TH GRADE, CULLOWHEE VALLEY




Flowing in Gloryland

I step into the rushing water,
   
As I feel the scales of fish, I start to slip on a wet stone.
        
Swept to the edge I know I must jump!
            
Leaping from that spot I soar with the eagle...
            
My winged warrior
            
My guide to salvation
      
He leads me home

Elijah Cooper Morgan, Cullowhee Valley, 4th grade