National Poetry Month, Day 4
For the past few days I've been celebrating National Poetry Month by posting poems by individual poets, and I hope my readers have enjoyed reading their work. Today I'm celebrating a woman who is not a poet, who in fact is not really an artist in any genre, except one crucial one, ENABLER OF ARTISTS. When I moved to western North Carolina in the late 60's, the presence of the arts here in the far reaches of the mountains was limited, to say the least. If you were a writer, the Mecca for you would have been the Chapel Hill/Durham area. That's where the arts lived, where the monetary support resided. Or so we believed, my writer friends and I. We felt isolated, unappreciated.
That didn't last. Over the years, thanks to the NC Arts Council and Mary Regan, support for the arts blossomed state-wide. For writers, she, and her able Literature Director Debbie McGill, became eloquent and energetic supporters of our work, our ambitions, our search for an audience.
Mary Regan recently retired, after so many fruitful years of guiding the State of the Arts. Below, I give you a poem I wrote for Mary, read by Chuck Sullivan at Mary's retirement celebration at the end of February.
Mary and the Muses
on the occasion of Mary Regan's retirement as Director of the North Carolina Arts Council
Those classical muses get way too much credit.
We artists in North Carolina don’t need them.
We’ve had our own Muse
whose name we can always pronounce.
No Terspsichore, Euterpe, Melpomen
or Polyhymnia. We call her Mary,
a good enough classical name
for a woman who’s nurtured
the arts, every one of them,
here in our state, from the mountains
to sea, from the cabin
to lighthouse, from canvas to
keyboard and back again.
Once I strained to hit a high C
in voice lessons. I tried to play Bach
and banged the wrong notes,
I teetered en pointe
and gave up, though I cherished,
and still do, my blue satin tutu.
My art teacher urged me to cherish
my inner Picasso,
but by then, I had fallen in love
with poetry. Thank goodness,
I moved to North Carolina
where Mary was waiting to help me
become what I wanted to be.
My own voice singing my own woman’s story.
We don’t need a team of Greek Muses,
doggedly dancing around
on some vases and frescoes.
We’ve had Mary all these years
clearing the way for us
as any Muse worth her name would do,
the Tenth Muse,
as the Bard himself might have called her,
..ten times more in worth
Than those old nine which rhymers invocate.*
Salud, Mary! Thank you, muchas gracias,
and merci beaucoup,
for all you have given this state.
*from Sonnet 38