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, December 20, 2010

THE GIFT OF POETRY FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Dede Wilson's "Eliza"

Dede Wilson has been a good friend for many years. I first discovered her work in the chapbook Glass, written after the death of her daughter in a car accident. I've followed her poetry ever since. Her innate elegance, sensibility, and wit shine through in all her poetry. Eliza: The New Orleans Years shows her voice in fine lyrical form, the persona of Eliza speaking across the centuries.

Eliza may be ordered from Main Street Rag Press.

ELIZA

The New Orleans Years
1837-1862
Dede Wilson

ISBN: 978-1-59948-259-0, ~80 pages, $14




About the Author



Dede Wilson is the author of three books of poems: Glass, Sea of Small Fears, and One Nightstand, a collection of light verse in forms followed by a primer to poetic form. Four poems from Eliza: The New Orleans Years were published in Nimrod as finalists for the Pablo Neruda Prize, and the poem "Yellow Fever," published as "Hydra," was nominated for a Pushcart. Her poems have appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Spoon River Poetry Review, Poet Lore, New Orleans Poetry Review, Poem, Cream City Review, Tar River Poetry, Iodine Poetry Journal, Flyway, Southern Poetry Review, Cave Wall, South Carolina Poetry Review, Asheville Poetry Review, The Lyric, Light, and many other journals. She has published short stories, essays, and a family memoir, Fourth Child, Second Daughter. Dede is a former travel editor of the Dallas Times Herald. A native of Louisiana, she has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 1967. She and her husband have two grown sons.

Foreword

Eliza Moore was born in London on August 8, 1819, the same year as Queen Victoria. Her parents were Sir Michael Moore, an Anglican minister, and his wife Elizabeth. After her father's untimely death, Eliza sailed with her mother and sisters, Maria and Louise, to New Orleans.

Caleb Alexander Parker, who had journeyed south from Sterling, Massachusetts, lived in New Orleans.

As the story begins, Eliza -- who has married an English sea captain -- is on board a packet ship nearing the port of New Orleans. It is late summer, 1837.





New Orleans



The smells are thicker than any in England:
coffee, sausages, sugared pecans. Flesh
too ripe, too perfumed. My own captain
unwashed. And me in sun-stained threads!
On the levee, a leper is begging.
Someone flips him a picayune. Enough,
I pray, for a dip of soup. I stumble
on rocks and cobbles, pitch through the streets.
Beg for my sisters. I saw Louise, I did,
peering back at me from a carriage.
That small bleached face. I cried to her, I ran…
my captain grabbed my sleeve. The sky is ringing
with heat and mosquitoes. I'm weak-kneed…trying
to breathe…Ah! Scents of camphor and sassafras…
that sweet reek of whisky reeling from doors.
The Vieux Carre. I sway against a wall.
He leads me by the wrist to a filthy street,
through a door, down an oily hall.


In the French Market



I walk as fast as I can, threading the stalls.
Acorn squash, late potatoes weigh my basket,
anything to roast on the grate. Yams. Cushaw.

He's here. I finger a sprig of sassafras.
That man…called Caleb. I am unreeling
beneath the surface, so deep I cannot breathe.

I grip my shawl. I'll leave. Yes. A girl glides by
with macaroons and nougat, oranges, candied
pecans. He sidles beside, drops a silver

into the marchande's hand, bows to me with figues
celestes, sweet figs from heaven. Anyone can
see. I do not turn. I stand. I eat. I feast.


Who Has Need of Hell?

-New Orleans, yellow fever epidemic, 1853



My lifeless child rocks at my breast. I swoon

toward a ditch, retch. Take one step, another,

into this fester of death. Black death. Black men

with black pots, black tar to smother the rot.

Whole families dead, no one surviving to care

for their bodies, to open their vaults. I pick

my way through the streets, my baby's body

wrapped in a shawl. Everywhere, bodies. Bodies

stiffening in doorways, on porches, slipping

off carts. The awful glitter of maggots. And

buzzards, buzzards pulling ropes of gore out

of a woman's bodice. There! That mulatto,

my seamstress––much too frail to be dragging

that body, that weight. Oh! our Pastor Clapp, two,

no, three small coffins falling from his cart.

Bell's Crevasse

-New Orleans,1858

He’s off again—with Maggie and Harrison—

to stare at Bell's crevasse. A break in the levee

with waters so swift, two grown men, horsing

around, have slipped in the rapids and drowned.

And there go my children, skipping along that

rain-slick levee, walking too close to the breach.

Look. I know. I've seen it. Last Sunday,

beside the river at Café du Monde, we watched

the water rising, spilling into Algiers.

The little ones sitting on Caleb's shoulders.

Me! Me! Now they're off to the Bell place,

Caleb grinning, silly with whiskey. They say

that fishermen are working the swirls, swelling

their nets. And small boats keep rowing closer

and closer. Men! Needing to risk a crevasse.

And what of this city? Pity this city

where whiskey moves quicker than rivers.

=



3 comments:

Jessie Carty said...

Oh i love themes collections! Thanks for letting us know about this one :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

My husband was borned and raised in NO - I will show him this book!

Merry Christmas to you and yours... *smiling*

Vicki Lane said...

What rich writing! Wonderful!