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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

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Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Saturday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First Drumbeat

First Drumbeat(Part of Living Poem) The time has come.Call it a drum,Or a crumb,What’s left of life. I used to tell a jokeWhen my life was wide,And I was a stud,And not a dud—I knowI’m not a dud.  I’m a dude,A dad.  But everyone mustRebut the dud chargeAt summing up time. Oh yeah, the joke,A trademark one for meIn that it’s not funny. I used to say I’ll never retireFrom writingBecause if I’m ever…See More
Saturday
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks for the prompt, Joan!  I have attached the whole work in progress as a doc at the bottom of the table of contents page: http://thereadonwnc.ning.com/special/living-poem"
Saturday
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Is there a way from this website to print everything or might you send me such a document to bayjh@icloud.com?"
Saturday
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event
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Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Branch McDowell County Public Library

October 24, 2018 from 4pm to 5pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be launching her new poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2018) at a book presentation and signing to be held at the McDowell County Public Library in Marion on October 24.See More
Friday
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"This could be interesting--thanks!  I'm at 828-505-1973 (my home business office).  And RNeufeld@charter.net."
Thursday
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"I'll ask the kids, Barb and Ethan, if they have any contacts who might have an interest in this as a unique topic for any performers they know. It might also be something that my friend Ruby Lerner could brainstorm about to her theatre…"
Wednesday
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks much, Joan!  I'm trying to get some attention for these poems.  Triple Whammy is def in rap style.  And the beat goes on.  Hugs from me and Bev."
Wednesday
Joan Henehan posted a discussion

on Reading Living Poem

You might be the first ALS-subject-matter rapper. Add some beats and spread it. the time is now...See More
Sep 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

More from the World of ALS

More from the World of ALS (Part of Living Poem)    Negotiating steps is like someone who seeksTo emulate a goat on mountain peaks. Crossing a threshold, limping inIs like the valley-walking of an Olympian. A cane and its grip make a fellow stopTo consider the physics of leans and drops. To know how a forefinger grabs and digsImagine your digits are chestnut twigs When a new drug trial notably…See More
Sep 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a discussion

RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE

RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE(31 August 2018)Nancy Werking Poling of Black Mountain is the winner of the 2018 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition for "Leander’s Lies." Poling will receive $1000 from the North Carolina Literary Review, thanks to a generous NCLR reader’s donation that allowed this year’s honorarium to increase (from the previous award of $250). Her winning essay will be published in the North…See More
Sep 4
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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming Rides

Upcoming Rides(Part of Living Poem) I must take a break from writing aboutThe third Lord Granville’s loss of landIn colonial North Carolina to noteI’m losing functionality in my hands. I’m confining my writing to a four-line,Alternate rhyme form, like a horse-fenceFraming a pantomimeOf equine force.  Hence, It’s time to imagine the power of mind,For instance, when a nod or thoughtInstructs a machine to…See More
Aug 26
Ann Miller Woodford updated their profile
Aug 17
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Cherokee and the Colonists

The Epic of the Cherokee and the Colonists            Hernando De Soto stopped in Asheville in 1541            When the Spanish conquistador came through here on his way from the Gulf Coast to Lake Michigan, he encountered big towns, well-used roads, and abandoned homes.   A smallpox epidemic—one of a series of plagues…See More
Aug 17
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Aug 3

George Ellison publishes book of poems that brings career full circle

George Ellison, naturalist, re-emerges as poet

by Rob Neufeld

 

            George Ellison, Bryson City naturalist and journalist, has created an outlet for song in his new book, “Permanent Camp: Poems, Narratives and Renderings from the Great Smokies.” 

His wife and lifelong collaborator, illustrator Elizabeth Ellison, bursts out in color on many pages.  Her contribution is also a treasure trove.

            Ellison has returned to poetry, after a forty-year excursion in prose, because, he says, “I needed the immersion that writing verse requires.  And I needed the elbow room—a medium that would allow me to intergrade verse with narrative and…create rhythms that say as much or more than words.”

            The Ellisons present their new book at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, Friday.

 

Natural flow

 

            In style, Ellison follows the lead of modernist poets, who found ways to shift from one form of expression to another, depending on the reflection.

            “‘And so,’ I say,” Ellison begins his book, quoting himself and Elizabeth at the founding of their “permanent camp” on the edge of the Smokies in 1976.  “Maybe this is what it’s come down to.”  He waves toward Noland Ridge, balancing a “tin cup of Beam” in his other hand.

            The Ellisons’ “pretty dream” was that one day they’ll disappear further into nature.          

            The following poem, “By My Window,” moves the reader from the window to a creek to the creek’s source, and then into observations that fill a very long line that requires meditational breathing.

            “The creek that arises far upstream within what/ is now park land from a hubcap-sized swatch of pebbly/ dark-stained seepage tucked in just below that dense grove/ of shortleaf pine and boulders where you can sit back out/ of the wind that so often blows and consider the rhythmic/ repetition of nearby clearly defined ridges…”    

 

Composition song

 

            Some poems talk to themselves.

            In “Composition Song,” Ellison scans his habitat; describes his writing book; interjects bird-song; thinks about an unnamed spirit-friend; and celebrates new beginnings, for instance, “the soft glow of just one pendant lily.”

            The heart of Ellison’s work is contemplation as mystical as William Blake’s—“to see a World in a Grain of Sand…Eternity in an Hour.”

            “Gravity,” Ellison notes in his poem, “Gravity Flow,” “flows slowly through all things.”

            “At the tail of the basin,” he observes about his cove, “cupping ridges flex and/ constrict like pelvic bones.”

            “And if the moon or stars or both/ are sufficient,” he croons, “the sweet arc glints…/a sibilant string of upward yearning/ light that always turns and/ becomes downward/ bearing.”  (Ellipsis is Ellison’s.)

 

Camp talk

 

            At other times, Ellison—literary child of Horace Kephart as well as Thoreau—engages in yawp.

            “‘What Do You Do?’ She Asked” is the title of one poem, the first line of which responds, “Besides drinking?”

            The speaker tells about listening to sports talk and “Outlaw Ray-dee-o,” and Billy Joe Shaver singing “When I Get My Wings.”  And he figures if Billy Joe could fly away singing “into Heaven like the great speckled bird,” then “there’s hope for almost anybody.”

 

It all comes together

 

            With Ellison’s return to poetry, he creates an integrated persona for himself that allows him to include many voices and compose a philosophy.

            At the start of Ellison’s career, he and Elizabeth had worked for about 20 years with the Cherokee, organizing youth activities, participating in ceremonies, locating and documenting sacred sites, and researching James Mooney’s “History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees.”

            Some of the “renderings” in his new book are translations of Cherokee formulas, rendered from others’ translations.

            The introductory poem to this section, “Masters of Enchantment,” is close to prose, explaining how “the Cherokee wizards” had worked.  The following sacred poems address a spirit, “Listen!”—and “Now!/ Look at me…talk with me…no apartness.”

            They are followed by prose notes: “The numbers four and seven are preeminent in Cherokee numerology.  Accordingly, the sacred formulas were usually composed in stanzas of either four or seven lines.”

            The idea of poetry as ritual practice is an ancient one.

            With his tenth book, Ellison has established an important place for himself in our literature by seeking exactly what he wanted—a romantic existence in nature, with a Cherokee sense of balance and a Buddhist’s simplicity-seeking stillness.

 

THE BOOK

Permanent Camp: Poems, Narratives and Renderings from the Great Smokies by George Ellison with artwork by Elizabeth Ellison (History Press trade paper, 2012, 160 pages, $21.99).

 

AUTHOR EVENTS

Elizabeth and George Ellison launch their book, “Permanent Camp,” at City Lights Bookstore, 3 E. Jackson St., Sylva, 6:30 p.m., Friday (586-9499).

They also present their book at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 7 p.m., July 13 (254-6734).

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