Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tara Powell's Southern poets feature

When one (this one) is too lazy to send out poems in little envelopes, it is very nice to be asked for poems. And as one (this one) gets older, one gets asked more and more, despite one's (this one's) laziness. Poet Tara Powell is working on a Southern poets feature for storySouth's winter issue, and four of my poems will be included. She also did an interview about me and poetry and the matter of being Southern, although I don't know how much of it will be used.

In Extremis is a poem that comes out of the bad time when we feared that our eldest son might die from meningitis, back when he was 8. It centers on a mystical event, painful and ecstatic.

Southern to the Bone shows the punch given to my imagination by a book on "the powers." These happen to be "fallen" ones.

The Exile's Track stems from the move North, at a time when I was needed in the Carolinas. It's a poem of grief and love and cold and the aurora borealis.

The Black Flower mingles musings on Iris Chang's death with images of the black irises that grow in the cottage garden in front of my 1808 Yankee house--though the earth contains considerable amounts of Carolina red clay, along with cardinal flowers and other native plants dug from my mother's mountain-top garden. The title is from a line in Hawthorne, as I suppose any good book nut knows, but was also used by my penpal, Howard Bahr (and that friendship shows you that blurbs are good for something, because I first wrote him after he gave a blurb to my novel, The Wolf Pit.)

These are all poems that make use of traditional forms--well, one is nonce--though not particularly complicated ones in these instances. I rarely write in free verse any more, because it just doesn't interest me except when I have written a good many poems in tight forms. Then I might like to leap out and break the bonds. But I always go back to form, because it takes me places that I didn't expect and gives me joy. The caged bird sings...

Other poems of mine are on line at McSweeney's Internet Tendency and Hypertexts (under "Contemporary Poets") and Books & Culture.

4 comments:

  1. Wonderful to hear you'll be in storySouth, Jason Sanford's most excellent journal. Many fine writers have appeared there, including: http://www.storysouth.com/spring2002/onesmallstep.html

    ;-)

    Jim

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  2. Jim--

    Thanks! Perfectly appropriate reading matter: I just roofed the house. Or, to put it more accurately, a clan of Amish men roofed the house. It's always pleasant to see men in hats and suspenders on a roof. And nobody fell off. I do regret that they didn't pull up the maple growing out of the chimney.

    Now 'fess up and tell us how the novel is going. You need to update that blog...

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  3. I hope your chimney maple is of the dwarf variety. The Japanese maple in my side yard was crimson on Halloween.

    I know, I'm such a slacker. I should be able to juggle a full-time job, family, upkeep on a house and 3/4 of an acre of land with eight oaks (red, pin, black), a hickory and three poplars (the battle of the leaves is in full swing and my compost pile is HUGE), while tracking short story submissions, blogging, and writing a novel. Yes, the novel -- even when I'm not working on it, I'm working on it. I've gone back to the prologue: Spring 1923 in Solsville, a turning point for my main character's maternal grandparents.

    Oh, and I just interviewed with the publisher of a local newspaper for an opening in their creative services/prepress dept. The office is seven minutes away, compared to the 30-40 min. I spend commuting to my current job. I could use the extra time in the morning to ... oh, I dunno ... write?

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  4. Hope you snag that job, Jim. You and Trollope can get up in the morning and lay down that pocket watch and crank out the daily words!

    Can't say that I've gotten a thing done lately--though Cooperstown has been warmer than usual, the onslaught of the school year's Yankee bugs is, alas, the same.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.