National Poetry Month, April 29, 2014

NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti

NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti

I visited the Ridgeview Branch of the Hickory Library System in Catawba County last evening, and taught a poetry workshop for eight middle school girls and one young adult. The session was spearheaded by librarian Carole Dennis, truly an advocate for the library and libraries, and

George Ella Lyon

George Ella Lyon

especially for those young women with whom I sat around the table. I employed yet again George Ella Lyon’s fabulous “Where I’m From” exercise and, as usual, it yielded extraordinary results. In the main, the girls talked about place – quite literally where they are from. But that place was not merely the geography they traverse on a given day, but their interior geography as well, and the projected geography of their dreams. Libraries, like the Ridgeview Branch, function as community centers, safe free zones to dream and read and write and be accepted – churches, if you will. As one girl put it in her poem: “The library is my favorite place.” See this post of April 17 for more on “Where I’m From.”

In yesterday’s post I went into some detail about the various luminaries who found their ways to Tryon, North Carolina, in Polk County. I stated that Ernest Hemingway had been a guest at Pine Crest Inn. I’d actually read on Pinecrest’s website that the Inn had “captivated & inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald & Ernest Hemingway.” From that I extrapolated that both of those famous authors had stayed there. However, while they might have both been “captivated” by Pine Crest, only Fitzgerald actually entered the place. After reading yesterday’s entry, Mike McCue, also featured prominently in yesterday’s blog, pointed out that it’s mere “apocryphal about Hemingway staying at Pine Crest …” and that it’s “one of the legends [Mike spends] spend time stamping out.”

Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa

Tomorrow, Lee Smith, a writer to whom North Carolinians – and, actually, readers everywhere – need no introduction, will be at Appalachian State University.

Today is the birthday of Yusef Komunyakaa, a Vietnam War veteran, one of our nation’s knockout poets.  Here’s his poem “Camouflaging the Chimera.”



C.P. Cavafy, generally acknowledged as the preeminent poet of Greece in the 20th Century, was also born on this day. Here’s his poem, “Craftsman of Wine Bowls,” translated by Avi Sharon. Happy birthday, as well, to Duke Ellington, born April 29, 1899. Check out Ellington and his orchestra performing “Take the A Train.”


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