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Julia Nunnally Duncan Featured at High Country Writers Meeting at Watauga County Public Library

June 14, 2018 from 10am to 12pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be the featured presenter at the High Country Writers Meeting on June 14, 10 a.m.-12 noon at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone. She will discuss her inspirations and the process of becoming a published author. She will present readings from her latest books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home and give a preview of her forthcoming poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes. A book signing will follow her presentation.See More
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A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 21, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm, join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her "Taking the Stage" workshop participants, for an enchanting evening of storytelling in picturesque Black Mountain, NC. You'll enjoy a variety of stories and storytelling styles featuring tellers Jane O Cunningham from Rome, GA; Gabriele Marewski from Black Mountain, NC; Christine Phillips Westfeldt - Fairview,…See More
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Writers Circle around the Table

We are located in Hayesville, NC. In April we begin our new season with outstanding Poet Mike James. Mike will read at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, GA on Friday evening April 13. On Saturday, April 14, he will teach a class at my studio.Formally SpeakingThis class will focus on different types of traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, and the sestina, and will also include other verse forms such as erasures, found poems, prose poems, and last poems.Contact Glenda…See More
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Rachel Carson, Silent Spring Chautauqua History Alive at UNC Asheville, OLLI Reuters Center, Manheimer Room

April 15, 2018 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Step inside the revolutionary book, Silent Spring as its author Rachel Carson reveals the reckless destruction of our living world. Written more than 55 years ago Silent Spring inspired the Environmental Movement and has never been out of print. And now you have a chance to ask the author, Rachel Carson, how this came to be. But these aren’t just performances. They’re a chance to step into Living History – to ask questions and go one on one with a women whose books shaped our country and our…See More
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Mom in Her Writing Nook ...

She was working on the "About the Authors" section of "Echoes Across the Blue Ridge" when I captured this one morning. Though you can't see it, her coffee cup was within gentle reach that morning. Roxie is at her feet.
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Feb 15

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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