Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Poetry Art? Bettie Mixon Sellers said, "A Poem is Like a Painting."

"A poem is like a painting," Bettie M. Sellers said. It was years ago, must have been in the 1970s, when I first heard her reading some of her poems at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. She was reading from a collection titled Westward from Bald Mountain. That evening, I learned that Brasstown Valley is a geographical region covering both Brasstown Bald Mountain in the north Georgia Mountains, the place of her poems, and the same region, crossing the Georgia state line covering the valley and small village of Brasstown that is the home of the folk school.

Bettie M. Sellers talked about two of her poems in particular, one being like a landscape painting and the other being like a portrait painting. I wrote down every word she said. After her poetry reading, we talked about how we were kin by marriage but more kin by poetry.

During this, her birth month, Bettie Mixon Sellers is our featured poet for MARCH 2009. Here are two more of her poems,
a landscape and a portrait.

BRASSTOWN VALLEY by Bettie M. Sellers

How fair the mountains
when willows green-out on the valley floor,
feathery light against spruce and pine,
and Jack-in-the-Pulpit thrusts his red-tipped spikes
up through warming leaf mold.
How fair the mountains
when sourwood waves spicy white flags
to tempt the roving bees,
and blue mid-summer's haze hides in distant
ridge indistinct as behind a soft veil.
How fair the mountains
when autumn unfolds a patch-work quilt
of red and gold and brown;
when day is warmed and yellow to touch,
and nights come crisp and cool.
How fair the mountains
when pines, ice-sparkled, bend on Cedar Ridge;
when February snow has hushed all sound
except a passing crow, and Brasstown waits,
asleep in winter sun.


Persistent as ferns in moist earth,
Will stands beside Big Bald Creek,
his body flowing with the landscape
as easily as the current emerges
from Enotah's height
to tumble down the valleyside.
Quartz-flecked as a gray stone
shines in a shadowy place,
his eyes under grizzled brows
glint promise of another spring
and laurel petals on the stream.
Then he speaks and tall pines echo
as ageless wind song
unchanged by roaring jets
the leave their insubstantial trails
white above the mountain.

--Bettie M. Sellers

Dear Reader. Of the poems presented this month
by Poet of the Month Bettie M. Sellers, which one
do you like best?

More poems will be posted near the end of the
month on Bettie's birthday.



Melissa Greene said...

What rich poetry, I love it! Reading her poems is like eating a double chocolate truffle, complex and sweet, you want to take it in slowly.

Nancy Simpson said...

Melissa, Thanks for commenting on these poems by
Bettie M. Sellers. You've said it well.

tipper said...

I like them both-but have to choose the first as my favorite! Could be cause I live in beautiful Brasstown!