April 12, 2016

Friday, April 9, 2010

NPM 50 State Tour: North Carolina

Welcome to the National Poetry Month 50 State Tour. We're visiting state poets laureate around the country.

North Carolina is the twelfth state, admitted to the union on November 21, 1789.

Did you check out the meaning of North Carolina's nickname, The Tarheel State? I'd rather call it by it's other moniker -- the Land of the Sky.

Here's another fun NC fact I learned: Whitewater Falls in Transylvania County is the highest waterfall in the eastern United States. I admit, I'm more fascinated by the fact that NC has a Transylvania County than I am by its waterfall.

NC's state poet laureate is Cathy Smith Bowers. She's new to the position this year.

A scrap of speech or dialogue can be a great jumping off point for a poem, as Bowers does in "A Southern Rhetoric." Watch for the complicated web of reactions the speaker has to her mother's words.

by Cathy Smith Bowers

"It's a sight in this world
the things in this world
there are to see!" my mother says
as she hurries between the stove
and Sunday table. She is just back
from vacation. Happy.
Talking mountains. Talking rivers.
Big cedars and tidal bores.
When I tease her for redundancy,
her face glows like a sturgeon moon
risen above fat buttery atolls
of biscuits, steaming promontory
of roast. She shakes her finger
in my face and scolds me good:
"Girl, don't you forget who it was
learned you to talk."
Amazing she would want
to lay claim to these syllables
piling up like railroad salvage
when I speak, to these words slow as hooves
dredging from the wet of just-plowed fields.

Read the rest of the poem here.

We finish off the 13 colonies with the smallest state, Rhode Island, tomorrow. Right now, we're putting on our infrared glasses and taking the kids to the International Spy Museum in DC.

No comments: