Saturday, May 8, 2010

THE MEMORY OF GILLS by Catherine Carter

Recently, I attended a poetry program at the local library. Two poets, James Cox, a local author and poet and Catherine Carter, an Assistant Professor of English at WCU, read from their works. Since I am hearing impaired, I missed a great deal, but I registered enough vivid imagery to make me want to read what I was hearing. Afterward, I inquired about their published collections. Cox does not have a collection yet, but Carter did, so I bought it the next day and spent two hours on my deck with lots of coffee and "The Memory of Gills." I am blown away by Catherine's collection and I may just have the gall to actually attempt to review it. Stay tuned.

Incidentally, the program was sponsored by the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for the Western Region. Essentially, that means that a new poet is paired with a "mentor" or experienced poet. It reminded me of another program over a decade ago that paired poets and short story writers. In fact, it even allowed storytellers to appear with poets/short story writers. I had the opportunity to appear with Joseph Bathanti, the poet at Saint Andrews. The only problem was, Saint Andrews forgot we were coming, so Bathanti and I did a program for a small audience composed of dorm daddies and janitors. Afterwards, Joseph went on to become a noted authhor/poet. I went on to become relatively obscure.


  1. Hey Gary,
    Nice of you to come to my humble debut at the Jackson County Library. Catherine's book is a good one, accessible poems, many with a message. I'm working on a collection, but want them all to be worth your five dollars. The Cowboy poem is now posted on my blog at Mountain Diamond Poetry.

  2. Well, Jim, poem anthologies are a lot more than $5.00. Caroline's collection cost me $17.00 and City Lights told me the latest collections from Kay
    Byer and Fred Chappell are running over $50.00. I am a bit stunned.

  3. Gary, I feel your pain about missing so much at readings. As far as I know my hearing (at 64) is OK, but maybe not my attention.

    Also, I don't trust the poetry I do hear at readings. Oral tradition be damned, the age of Homer is long gone, and the written word should be much more important than what is spoken. How much of Hopkins or Dickinson would the most astute audience really GET if they ONLY heard it read aloud? If poetry is any good, it requires the the reader to wallow in it, privately, and you can't wallow at a reading. People would frown upon it.

    As you imply, however, it's a good way to be introduced to writers. MAYBE the audience can glean enough from the sounds we do catch to know whether we want to explore that writer further.

    $5 and $50 both sound like unusual prices to me, by the way.

  4. Since I earn my modest livelihood by telling stories, your pronouncements on the oral tradition frightened me. I've been telling stories for 40 years and after I got a cochlear implant two years ago, I fell in love with my own voice. (That is tricky, since the voice I hear is not "my own voice," but a mechanically enhanced voice that sounds a little like Sean Connery. I frequently sit on my own deck in the dark and talk to myself, relishing the sound of words that I have spoken thousands of times, but never heard clearly. Oh, my! the oral tradition is alive and well on my deck, and when the wide world will have me, I tell them to college students, senior citizens, elderhotels and friends. I can recite most of "Medea" and "Cyrano" and most of Tom's speeches in "The Glass Managerie." I still find a little "frission" there that I don't get from the printed page.