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.




Thursday, December 23, 2010

THE GIFT OF POETRY FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Julia Nunnally Duncan's AT DUSK

One of the great pleasures of being a writer in North Carolina is the literary community that helps introduce us to each other. I've known Julia Nunnally Duncan for many years, discovering her work while a reader for Appalachian Consortium Press. That discovery was Blue Ridge Shadows, a collection of short stories. I was so impressed that I contacted her, after which we became literary "sisters," so to speak. Julia has studied with Lee Smith, among others, and has published several collections of fiction. Her poetry, however, is what I'm celebrating today--her second collection of poems titled AT DUSK. Several of the first poems in the book seem appropriate for this time of year, especially the one about a wood stove! This would make a good winter-time gift for yourself or one of the readers on your holiday list.




(Julia Nunnally Duncan at Malaprop's Bookstore last December, after a reading with Cecilia Woloch and me. She read poems from her recently published book, below. )

Please order from Old Seventy Creek Press at http://oldseventycreekpress.books.officelive.com/Julia.aspx. This small press is located in Albany, Kentucky.


Utensils


I polish the utensils

one at a time—

knives, forks, and spoons

emptied today

from my mother’s kitchen drawer.


Forgotten fork, long-pronged

and mismatched;

I didn’t want it put

beside my supper plate.

What difference does it make?

my mother asked through the years,

but I still refused to lift it to my mouth,

sure that it would taint

the taste of the food.


Floral-patterned stainless steel implements,

bought through the decades

at the Roses Five and Dime;

and tarnished silver plate pieces

that were saved from my grandmother’s set

or unearthed when the garden was plowed—

all have waited to be caressed by me.


I finger the years

with a cotton cloth:

clean, rinse, and polish,

till I conjure my inverted image

in the spoons’ embrace.



Wood Stove


In my mother’s kitchen

I sit near the wood stove,

shying away from other cold rooms.

Here she bakes biscuits

and boils pinto beans

and dries her hair

at the opened oven door.

In my early childhood

before the luxury

of a finished bathroom,

I took my baths at the wood stove:

buckets full of cold water,

kettles full of hot

that steamed as she poured them

into a galvanized tub,

the water cooling too soon

in the shadows of a winter evening.


It seems I am always drawn back

to this embrace of heat;

and as the pine wood hisses

and embers glow,

frost lacing the windows early tonight,

I sit at the wood stove,

close my eyes,

and enjoy.






Volare


In some woman’s Ford—

I can’t remember exactly whose—

I slouched in the hot back seat

and nibbled warm Swiss cheese from a grocery bag—

too hungry to wait for dinner.

My mother and the driver sat up front talking

while the radio blared Volare.


Now—

forty-five years later—

when I hear that song,

I taste the waxy blandness of Swiss cheese

and feel the heat of a summer day.

I am a child again,

set apart in a stifling back seat,

hungry,

impatient to get home,

bored with the unintelligible

talk of women.



Roadside Stable


The Appaloosa gelding at the roadside stable,

where a tourist could get a trail ride for two dollars,

was too weary to care where the trail guide led us

and too bored to buck when I nudged with my heels

its bony sides.

I thought to canter would be impressive

to the acne-scarred boy who led us into the woods

on his buckskin mare.

But he never noticed my posting,

or the new black boots I wore,

or the riding crop I’d gotten at Sears—

my English style so wrong for my Western mount.

The guide wanted only to get us back

to the dusty gravel parking lot,

where my father and mother waited,

impatient to drive on to Cherokee.