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.




Tuesday, January 19, 2010

KITCHEN MEDITATIONS #1: Happiness

(My kitchen window, New Year's Eve)


December 31, 2009, 10:36 am

So when redroom.com asks me to blog about happiness, I don't know what to say.

I don't know what "happiness" means. How to answer, if you are a poet?

Maybe you say, that day in November when I was sixteen and I ran through the fields and the sky gathered me up....

Ok, you're thinking cliche. I get it. So, let me try again.

I open a book in the college library and there I find a poem by James Dickey that pulls me in like a lasso. Friday night on campus, everyone else on dates, getting drunk at frat houses. I am what you might call happy to sit in silence, nobody else in the stacks, reading this poet named James Dickey.

But-- Oh, no, James Dickey is not politically correct. Sorry. He was a boozer, treated his women badly, his own gift shabbily.

So, instead I open another book and Federico Garcia Lorca pulls me into "verde, que te quiero verde," and I follow it all the way to the end and later declare my major in Spanish, only to change it to art because I have fallen in love with Kandinsky, only to change it to English because I have fallen in love with Beowulf, Wordsworth, Hopkins.

Let me tell you about the time I walked with a man in October, all the leaves burning, and thought I had entered a sacred wood......but that ended in marriage, and we all know, if we watch enough t.v. or read enough contemporary fiction, that marriage does not lead after nearly 40 years to real "happiness." Whatever happiness is.

So, I stand in my kitchen, this New Year's Eve and watch the trees, naked as I want my words to be right now, waiting for a a little light, a little green. And I wonder, am I happy? The sky is gray, the way I like it this time of year. There's soup on the stove, bread in the oven. I don't know if this makes me happy. But here in this cluttered kitchen, the girl running through the field, the young woman falling in love, the old dead grandmother smiling down at me from the photo over the counter come together in the scent of bread rising, soup simmering. They do not ask if I am happy. They ask if I am still alive.

6 comments:

Nancy Simpson said...

Kay, I believe in you. These are amazing words.
Thank you.

Joan Ellen Gage said...

I think that your kitchen is a living, breathing entity. It spoke to me.

Vicki Lane said...

This gave me goosebumps, Kay. I'm glad to see the number one because it means there'll be more. And how perfect, in the kitchen -- the heart (hearth?)of the home.

What is happiness? A huge question -- a little like pornography -- hard to define but I know it when I see it.

I look forward to your next meditation... xo, V

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thank you so much. You three have made me hope that maybe these so-called Kitchen Meditations are worth continuuing. Joan Ellen, my kitchen being a living entity--that image speaks to me!!!!
Nancy and Vicki, you are with me, in the kitchen and out of it.
Bachelard's Poetics of Space set me to thinking about all of this years ago--along with memories of my grandmother's kitchen.

Jessie Carty said...

you sound very content if nothing else and for me that is definitely a part of that thing we call happiness :)

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thanks, Jessie. Actually, I'm not content, because I don't know what that really means either. I will always be in flux, questioning, connecting, and only rarely content. There are moments, though, when I think I feel that way in my kitchen---or in the midst of a poem!