Posts Tagged ‘Weymouth’

The gardens at Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines, NC are a site to restore your soul.  Huge weeping cherry trees, perennial gardens, poet’s garden, frog pond, the adjacent old-growth longleaf pine savannah of Weymouth Woods . . . I first absorbed their restorative atmosphere about twelve years ago.  It was at the close of the last century, and  I was enjoying the approach of evening beside the water lilies, preparing to attend my first NC Poetry Society board meeting as treasurer.  In the diminishing light a vision appeared before me.  An elegant couple approached across the manicured grounds, he a dapper gentleman with a graying beard, she a slender beautiful woman with an astonishing floral hat.  I said to myself, I am in the right place.

No, it wasn’t Zelda and F. Scott (although doubtless they were frequent visitors when the Boyds resided at Weymouth).  Guy and Carolyn York became my friends in that garden that evening and have been ever since.  For two decades they have served the NC Poetry Society with warmth, creativity, and tireless enthusiasm.  During the fourteen years they shared as Vice Presidents for Membership they assured that every new member could say, “I am in the right place.” They greeted every person who walked into the Garden Room to attend an NCPS meeting or workshop at Weymouth.  They kept straight the status and address of some 400 members to make sure we’d receive our Pine Whispers newsletters and notices about contests and gatherings. Every new member for almost a decade and a half has received a welcoming packet of readings, poems, notices and tidbits that bear Carolyn’s distinctive touch.

One perquisite of serving on the NCPS Board is the social time on Friday night after the two- or three-hour long Board meeting – and no such gathering could ever be complete without Guy’s bottomless well of recitation: Tennyson, Kipling, Shakespeare, and a few limericks it would be illegal to post.  Now Carolyn and Guy have taken a hiatus from the Board for a year or two, but in 2013 Carolyn has agreed to serve as President and Guy will assume an At Large position.  Meanwhile they attend every meeting, volunteer in the book room, and continue to share their humor and style – folks, if you are in a room with Carolyn and Guy, you are in the right place.

The vote was unanimous.  The North Carolina Poetry Society Board of Directors has dedicated the 2012 edition of our annual anthology, Pinesong, to Carolyn and Guy York.  Congratulations, friends and companions!  Here’s to a few more decades together of celebration and poetry.


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Sugar Dust

Over time
the round pale moon
like the
sugar cookie
of our childhood days
that we saved
and ate clandestine
in the closet
of the nursery
secretly – a bit at a time
a bite at a time –
until nothing was left
except the
which clung to our fingers.

In the sky of mooncrumble
nothing remains
in the velvet darkness
but sweet crystals of star dust.

© Carolyn Pleasants York, from Dream Within a Dream, 2011, Green Jade Publishers (Old Mountain Press)


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Dream Within a Dream is Carolyn’s Southern gothic mystery novel which incorporates Carolyn’s poetry to enhance the atmosphere of magnolia blossoms and dark secrets.

Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities

North Carolina Poetry Society

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I’m fourteen and I need a new pair of pants (the Aurora High dress code states “no blue jeans”). My dad drives me to Solon to the men’s store. I am not feeling at all like a man when I consider walking up to the clerk in his jacket and tie and asking for help finding what I need. I don’t even know how to describe what I need, much less do I have the intestinal fortitude to ask for it. My mouth is dry. Everyone in the place (all two of them) is staring at me. What a dork! Then my dad walks in and says three words to the clerk who points to a rack. Dad pulls down a couple of pairs, holds them up to my scrawny frame, sends me into the fitting room. They’re OK. He pays and we drive home. DAMN, my Dad can do anything!
When I was thirty-eight and shopping with my fourteen-year old son, I walked up to the clerk and asked how to find the pants. And I was convinced everyone in the place thought I was a dork. But then I suddenly realized my son couldn’t tell I felt like a dork. He must have thought I knew what I was doing. And then I thought maybe my Dad always felt like a dork and was never really filled with the confidence I always sensed exuding from him. And now I’m fifty-eight and still feel like a dork, but I’ve at least reached the point where I don’t always care whether people think I’m one or not. [OK, OK, until later, when the retrospectoscope clicks on and I think, “Why the hell did I say that? What a dork!”]
Which doesn’t have a thing to do with this poem by Annalee Kwochka. Or maybe it does. In her premier book, Seventeen, Annalee includes endnotes that explain the moment in 8th grade when she suddenly realized her parents didn’t have themselves figured out any better than she did. When your idols are suddenly discovered to be human and fallible, do you hate them for it? Or is that the moment when you really first begin to love them?
And now I’m recalling Annalee reading from her book at Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities last month. Poised, beautiful, expressive, honest. Her piercing skill with words, her entangling extended metaphors, how she reveals a depth to the teenage psyche I didn’t know we former-teenagers ever possessed. Totally non-dorky. But still I wonder – did she go home that night and think, “Why the hell did I say that?!” I hope not. I hope there’s one person on the planet that feels completely at home in who they are and who they’re becoming.
Oh, and postscript to my son: does it help to know that your old man who carries a stethoscope and writes poems and knows the Latin names of things is really still, at heart, a dork?

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for my mother
You, with your
Mouth drawn tight and your fingers
Fast on the keyboard, you seem
So lost in your own private storm.
You can’t feel the winds that rip
From your mouth, scarcely notice the
Words they carry.

Do you dance
In your own rain?
Once while spinning
On the warm summer sidewalk, I
Watched the chalk-pictures drain their rainbow
Through my pink-painted toes,
And thought I might have glimpsed
A little happiness.

Do you sing louder
Than your own thunder?
When I was swinging in a spring
Thunderstorm, I let my voice seek the
Bluebirds and their bright feathers, the ground
Falling from under my mud-stained feet as song
Lifted me through that crack in the storm
Where the sun seeps through.
And I found
A silver lining
In the angry, tight-pulled words
That brought me out into a summer storm,
Wishing you were here with me.

from SEVENTEEN by Annalee Kwochka, (c) 2010
For information, contact Running Poet Press


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Annalee Kwochka won first prize in the 2005 NC Poetry Society student contest for lyrical poety (grades 3-8) for her poem Window Seat at the City Bakery, and she has been accumulating kudos ever since.  This fall she’ll matriculate in Davidson College’s creative writing program.

SEVENTEEN reviewed by Scott Owens 

Mona Lisa Muse by Annalee Kwochka, won first prize in the 2008 NCPS student contest

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