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, April 29, 2011

POETS OF THE DAY: DEBRA KAUFMAN AND SUSAN M. LEFLER

The poems by Debra Kaufman and Susan M. Lefler weave together in all sorts of interesting ways, beyond the obvious. Both deal with family and grief, yes, but beyond that, their voices entwine stylistically and tonally. I'm pleased to feature their new books today and encourage you to order them, keep them side by side, and turn to them especially as night falls. Their poetry waits to offer up its riches in the silence of nightfall. Or the early morning hour when one stands with a cup of coffee looking out at the world, remembering Czeslaw Milosz's prayer from "On Angels":

day draws near
another one
do what you can.

Debra Kaufman has given much to the literary community in her part of North Carolina. A playwright as well as poet, editor, teacher, and enabler of other writers, she embodies what is most admirable in our North Carolina literary scene.


Debra's new book can be found at Jacar Press's website--www.jacarpress.com. Jacar promises to become one of the South's most important small presses.
    • We're Never Ready

      Here we gather,
      motley, at the wake.

      This one hasn’t had her roots
      touched up. That one’s stuffed

      into his best suit coat.
      One has black grease under his fingernails.

      Another teeters on too-high heels
      saying Jesus, Jesus—

      half-prayer, half-curse.
      We gather brassy,

      shabby, befuddled,
      to witness this body—

      yellow rose on blue lapel,
      fresh haircut, no necktie—

      his body without his laugh,
      his breath, the pain.

      Autumnal Equinox

      Sugar maples blaze at sunset;
      leaves swoop and skirt
      the chilling wind like chimney swifts.

      A boy leaps into leaves,
      calls to a neighbor’s Irish red,
      as light falls, a cat’s white shadow,

      on his grandmother’s lap.
      Her hands rest there,
      her grandmother’s hands,

      the same boniness of wrist and knuckle,
      dry fingers nearly flammable in the smoky air.
      She smells ripe pears

      and feels her body drawn
      toward the darkness that rolls in
      earlier each day.

      Heat and light retreat,
      and evening covers everything
      except the boy, whose hair shines

      silky silver light
      as he tosses armfuls of color
      upward, like sparks.

    Susan Lefler has been in several of my workshops, which means I'm by no means objective when it comes to her work. I've watched her grow over the years into a writer who knows her material and can work with it without flinching, asking the tough questions, lowering the windlass at the well, as Seamus Heaney has described the poet's growth. Her first collection, Rendering the Bones, comes fully rendered itself, a mature poet's voice reaching out to us.






    Charlie Hughes has made Wind Publications a treasure trove of some of the best poetry being published in the South. Visit his site--www.windpub.com--to view his catalog. Charlie is a fine poet himself and a longtime supporter of Appalachian and Southern writing.




    Rendering the Bones


    The trouble with grief,
    I think as I boil the bones,
    is that you grow accustomed to it.
    Empty space, where all you have left
    is old dry bones.

    At the rest home where my father lives,
    his neighbors pedal their wheeled chairs like
    little boats along the halls, their eyes empty
    as hooked fish. These old ones know
    dry bones don’t live.

    Against her shriveled breast,
    an old woman clutches her plastic doll,
    touches its cheek and croons to it.
    Her reedy cry follows me down
    the narrow hallways of our loss

    where I hear her again,
    as I stand at my stove,
    clutching my mother’s spoon
    in my hands,
    rendering the bones.



    Analysis of a Perfect Storm



    The eye where the wind lies quiet

    must be round and smooth as silk pajamas


    and very, very still, and those who stand

    in its center must rest in its infinite


    curve as if held in the arms

    of a mother while outside, the wind


    gathers. There must be a pupil

    in that calm eye to watch in all directions


    as winds build toward their dead intent

    and the pressure drops. No holy habitation


    here, no safety net, no freedom for the guest.

    Trapped in a hospital cube, I listen


    with my parents to steel voices

    while one hope after another collapses,


    sucking our breath. Outside, the wind

    picks up again and my father stares transfixed,


    rehearsing escape routes

    even as water rises and the eye


    passes over.


3 comments:

Nancy Simpson said...

CONGRATULATIONS TO Debra and Susan. I plan to read more.

jeff said...

You can hear Susan reading poems from Rendering the Bones and talking about them with Cathy Smith Bowers here: http://www.ibiblio.org/wordplay/shows/afm-word-play-12192010%20lrh%20lefler.mp3

Enjoy!

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful observations at a funeral... and the kitchen wisdom of rendering the bones is so poignant.