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.




Monday, October 12, 2009

OF SHAWLS AND REPRINT FEES




My husband bought this shawl for me in Florence, Italy many years ago. I keep it draped over my bedroom wall. I think I may have worn it once. It's the sort of shawl to wear to an opera, maybe Tosca or La Traviata. It's also the sort of shawl that feels out of place here in Cullowhee. Actually, it ought to be an opera singer's shawl. And since I sing opera only in my dreams, amazing myself as I walk onstage to hear Musetta's aria coming out of my mouth, maybe I've always felt that this shawl is just too special for someone like me to wear.

The black shawl below is another matter. I ordered it from the Sears Catalog--yes, Sears--so you know how long I must have had it. Whenever I wore it, it picked up various debris in its long fringes, like a net, and so I came to think of it that way, as a net gathering up a woman's sensibility. Her dreams, fears, and songs.



That image was the start of my third book, Black Shawl, from which Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham wanted to reprint the title poem in their recent Clothes Lines anthology. They couldn't afford it, though, because my publisher, asked a huge reprint fee. So much money for one poem? I was astonished and horrified.

Nothing to do, then, but to write another shawl poem, which I did surprisingly quickly. Maybe the mountain woman's voice in it is a close cousin to the woman's voice in Black Shawl. Yes, it's in the anthology, which again I recommend highly. And although I don't approve of any poet's poems being kept from anthologies because of unreasonable reprint fees, I'll have to concede that this time those fees pushed me into writing a poem that I like and am pleased to see published in this anthology.


River Shawl




She’d dribble the fringe of her shawl
in the river. The quick current rippled the black threads.
They floated as she wished she could.
They wanted to be swept away but she held fast
to what had been woven. Her mother’s shawl.
Now her own. How much longer
to be handed down, this black keepsake?

She’d lift out the fringe,
rub it over her face, feel the cold
water run down her cheeks,
down her neck,
into white folds of flesh underneath the dress
worn before her by her kinswomen.

What might she catch in this web
if she let it drift far enough
out of the shallows,
into the dark center
where she could not see the bottom?

How far would she have to wade
until she stepped into
some other world, under the sun-dappled
surface? The river itself was a shawl,
always wrapping itself round the hills,
threaded with golden light,
trailing its castaway leaves.

It could weave her into its weft,
carry her farther than she could imagine--
the sea she could feel surging
inside when she let herself
want what she knew she could not
have, a life she could open
as wide as a closet door onto
garments no woman had worn
before her. Nobody’s life but her own.




from Clothes Lines, ed. by Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham, Catawba Publishing, 2009.

11 comments:

Nancy Simpson said...

What poem could ever be as great as "Black Shawl?"
"River Shawl" is a contender.

I have goose bumps.I need my shawl.

Kaye Barley said...

Kay - you have inspired me with your scrumptious shawls and the beautiful words you write about them. I'm leaving on Wed. morning for a trip out of town for a few days - and I'm packing a few shawls to go along with me. I'll think of you!

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Kay that's beautiful! How beautiful of you to write another for this book! :)

doris diosa said...

Kay,
Glad you're back. :) You know i always love reading your poetry, anytime, about anything. On the other hand . . . chilling thought, that we have to be "fined" - in a way - to reprint our own poems! Can't get over that. (Love the food pitures / recipes too.)

- dorississima

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Nancy, I hope you found a warm shawl! This rainy weather makes me feel cold. Kaye, thanks for your lovely words here and on facebook. I can tell from photos of you that you have "a few shawls" and look great in them. And Carol, what an experience to be able to say--what the heck, I'll just sit here and write a new poem! Oh, dorissima, it has been a long time. Now Jim is back in TN--his dad fell yesterday and is in the hospital.

Vicki Lane said...

So another beautiful poem is born from your publisher's unreasonable attitude! Way to go!

Yeah, I think I need a shawl.

Jessie Carty said...

i interviewed Tom Lombardo about his anthology "After Shocks" and he was very disappointed when he ran into one instance of very high reprint fees. But so awesome that you created a new piece!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I love shawls and brought back several from France. If only I could write the lovely words you do to compliment mine.
Sam

Joan Ellen Gage said...

River Shawl is lovely and flowing. I have not read your black shawl poem. I should like to.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Jessie, I'm sure many editors can give similar stories about high reprint fees. What's frustrating is to me, of course, that many LSU poets are denied entry to anthologies because of them.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Sam, I'd love to see those French Shawls. You don't need to write a poem about them--create a dish in their honor.
Joan Ellen, I will try to find a copy of Black Shawl to post. That's an older book and my files are not up to date on it. We'll see. I can always sell you the book at author's discount (i.e., real cheap!Like 6 bucks.)