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Kathryn Stripling Byer's Blog

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What could trump reading a wonderful novel by a great novelist?  Well, reading with a dog draped across your lap.  Here is our Lord Byron in lapdom while my husband reads Amitov Ghosh's THE SEA OF POPPIES.   He's been a huge Ghosh fan since he read SHADOWLINES.  This novel is thumbs up, too.  Lord...
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On this next to the last day of National Poetry Month, here's a poem by my friend Isabel Zuber, who has published a novel SALT (Picador) and several chapbooks of poetry Craft Move the thread she did tied a thousand, thousand knots, chains, flowers What do you make I said A snare Oh I thought it...
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Quite a few years back I began a short story from the viewpoint of a young mountain girl "taken advantage of," as we say, by one of the timber "cruisers" sent into the southern Appalachians to scout the best stand of forest to be clear-cut. As in Ron Rash's novel Serena, these timber companies...
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Yes, I've been checking the Academy of American Poets daily poems for National Poetry Month and finding them, well, lightweight. So, I've spent the rest of my reading time discovering the work of Mahmoud Darwish, Nazim Hikmet, and the 20th century Iranian poets translated and discussed in Fatemeh...
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Ivy, Sing Ivory 1 Like women, the dogwoods go nowhere and wait for their season, the sun coming back like a sea-roving laddie. By May Day the ground will be white with their fare-thee-wells no man will heed, his boots grinding a path through the leaf mold. Such pretty things, Mama said,...
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Our poem-tag began the day after Inauguration Day. Since both of us had been underwhelmed by the Inaugural Poem, we wrote our own, sending our poems to each other, and then we started riffing from each other's work. Our riffs took us in unexpected, sometimes bizarre, and emotionally moving...
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Easter has always been my least favorite holiday. Easter Sunday meant clothes more than anything else. New dress. Hat. Gloves. Shoes. Being eyed by everyone in the congregation. Or feeling that way. When I married, I spent Easter with my husband's parents, and going to church on Easter...
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Exploring a poem's sound through scansion is not "crap," as Marilyn Kallet has recently called it. It's simply another tool with which to examine that large or small "machine made of words" as William Carlos Williams described a poem. Maybe if more poets paid attention to rhythm and what a...
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Southern Poetry Review has been so much a part of so many poets' lives over the past 50 years that it's hard to imagine the universe without it. When I was a student in the MFA program at UNC-G in the '60s, I was introduced to the journal and to its founder Guy Owen. Owen was an instructor in the...
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A Rainbow of New Poetry Books
Years ago when my first book of poetry was published in the Associated Writing Programs Series, a friend asked, "When are you going to write a REAL book?" A novel, of course. Maybe never, I wanted to answer. "Well, I think this is a REAL book," I said instead. It certainly felt real to me,...
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Like Chitra Divakaruni, I too have Mango Memories, but they take me back to Mexico and they don't summon up fabulous recipes like her mango ice cream, which I can hardly wait to try. A 19 year old student studying Spanish in college back in the 60's, I traveled with two sister students to the...
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Brimful, copyright KS Byer
What does poetry do for us? What sort of perspective does it bring to our everyday lives? I invite your answers to these open-ended questions. The image I've included captures visually what a poem does for me. While washing dishes Monday morning, I looked up and saw a wine glass holding the...
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I don't think so. Sometimes it is when the poet is a poor reader or the poetry itself is boring. But anyone who would say that poetry is "rarely" audience friendly knows nothing about poetry of any period or culture. This is from a review of a recently released book. If literate American...
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Looking for a good book that will take you out of the swamp of American best-seller lists? Give JASMINE AND STARS: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran a try. It's by my friend Fatemeh Keshavarz, a poet and scholar I came to know through public radio's "Speaking of Faith." Based on that interview...
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This is the first poem from my sonnet sequence titled SOUTHERN FICTIONS. It first appeared in CALLALOO: Confederate Flag Issue. I'm still trying to answer the question, "What does it mean?" Southern Fictions ...human kind Cannot bear very much reality. T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton My father drapes...
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