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.




Saturday, September 4, 2010

NAMING THE CONSTELLATIONS: John Thomas York


John York's splendid new book, Naming the Constellations: New Poems, has just been published by Spring Street Editions, in collaboration with Ash Creek Press in Portland, Oregon. York's daughter Rachel painted the cover image for the chapbook, and Fred Chappell, Mark Smith-Soto, and Al Maginnes provided testimonials.

A native North Carolinian, John has served his home state well as both public school teacher and poet. He has received the Teacher of the Year award from the NC English Teachers Association as well as the Poet Laureate Award from the NC Poetry Society. He has published his work in two previous chapbooks, as well as in numerous journals. I've featured him several times in blog posts both on Here, Where I Am and My Laureate's Lasso.


These poems by John Thomas York recall to vivid life a mode of existence that has well nigh disappeared. His pliant lyricism is born from a deep love of country things, country people, and the country itself in the widest meaning of that term. It is a country the poet says he did not return to, "for the land lives in me, the kingdom come." That's true--and what a grand kingdom it is!


--------Fred Chappell

York was born in Winston-Salem in 1953 and grew up on a dairy farm in Yadkin County. He was educated at Appalachian State, Wake Forest, Duke, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing. He has also been a Mellon Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a recipient of fellowships from the Council for Basic Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities. For over thirty years he has taught English in the public schools. In 2003 he was named Teacher of the Year by NCETA. John York and his wife, Jane McKinney York, teach at Penn-Griffin School for the Arts, in High Point, a magnet school in the Guilford County system.

His work has appeared in many regional journals, including Greensboro Review: He won that magazine's Literary Award for Poetry in 1985. He has previously published two chapbooks, Picking Out (Nebo Poetry Press, 1982) and Johnny's Cosmology (The Hummingbird Press of Winston-Salem, 1994).

Naming the Constellations is the third book published by Spring Street Editions, of Sylva, NC, in association with Ash Creek Press, of Portland, Oregon. Spring Street has also published chapbooks by Kathryn Stripling Byer and Mary Adams.


(John York, NC Teacher of the Year, at the NC English Teachers Banquet in Winston-Salem)

To order the chapbook, please contact City Lights Bookstore of Sylva:

http://www.citylightsnc.com/

Or you may order directly from the author:

John T. York, 804 Westover Terrace, Greensboro, NC 27408



We at Spring Street Editions do not use amazon.com, preferring to work instead with Indie bookstores at indiebound.com.

Price is $12, plus $2.00 postage.


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Here are three poems from John's new book.




June


One morning, I walked down

the ditch between young corn and shining gravel,

cool white sand


lovely to my uncalloused feet.

I shuffled toward the giant trees hanging

over the road,


walked right into a shower of music,

as strange as the melodies picked up by radio

telescopes--music from the stars.


I couldn’t see any aliens,

but I knew their hymn—how wide the sky

was my rough translation,


or maybe the visitors

were merely chirping, laughing at a dirty

blond boy: a wingless creature,


how slowly and quietly he moves.

I could tell they were the true rulers of the universe,

making radiant the worm,


the grasshopper, the morning glory--

the singers’ babel a blessing,

telling everything to grow.


Puzzle


My father quit the farm

one piece at a time:


Kate, the old mule, gone one day,

no word of her destination,


then the cows, thirty-five Holsteins,

sold to a man who didn’t know their names,


the tractors, the tall John Deere,

the Ford, John’s little buddy,


the wagon rolling on slick tires,

a yellow cultivator splotched by rust,


the antique seed drill,

iron-spoked wheels higher than my head,


a disk harrow, a bull-tongued plow,

the tobacco sleds waiting for summer,


the mowing machine whose teeth

chattered through the alfalfa on the hottest days


and the raking machine that churned

hay into orderly rows,


the manure spreader, orange wagon

splattered black, blades clotted thick,


the two-seated tobacco planter,

its twin trays, belts, and hoses,


the sprinklers, the muddy pump like half

a tractor, the irrigation pipes.


I would come home from school

and the landscape would be changed


in a subtle way

I refused to understand,


the pastures, too quiet, the growing

vacancy in the machinery shed.


One cold Saturday,

my father out for a long haul,


my sister helping my mother pack,

I wandered about the farm,


down to the bridge, along the creek,

the pasture fence, the red boundary flags,


up to the highest hill, where I could look

over the farm and see Mt. Nebo in the distance.


I was looking for a missing piece,

the edges invisible but sharp:


the wind passed through me, as if

I were a wood stove, left there by the road,


the door left open, the wind

lowing over a rusty pipe.


Teaching Time



Jack must’ve climbed a corn stalk--for by the time I heard rumor

of school starting, the rows marched up the hill and the leaders

hid their tassel tops in a cloud’s belly. I would’ve laughed

at gravity and followed Jack, but then Claude Jester came

running from the tobacco barn, just as the wind blew

a wrinkled piece of tin over his head: the thunder

boomed and that was the end of summer: Mom

said, “Soon we’ll need to buy you some green

jeans and new shirts, Johnny,” and I worried

that my friends would have forgotten my

name, it had been so long since May.

That rainy afternoon, Mama let me

play with a clock she used for

teaching time. I spun the

blue minute hand around

the red hours, I dreamed

through the years, until

I had a wife and three

daughters. When the

girls were little, we

liked to go to the

science museum,

and there we

dropped pennies

into a slot that

sent the coins

circling in a big

yellow funnel,

we watched

them gain

momentum,

the years

speeding up,

each penny

finishing in

a blur, a

rising whir,

and then


clink

5 comments:

Vicki Lane said...

All wonderful but "Puzzle" broke my heart.

Charlotte said...

The litany of farm machinery. . .such a beautiful unfolding of words.

Nancy said...

...and John is such a gentleman poet too. I can't wait for my copy of his book to arrive. Thanks for sharing.

Novice Naturalist said...

I have a small 'Writing as Blogging' class going here in the Arctic. So far, of all the blogs I have shared with them, they have liked the poet blogs best. I will be sending them this link this week. Can't wait to hear their reactions. And it IS nice to have poetry moments worked into the week. Thanks for sharing.

Jessie Carty said...

Congrats to John!