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Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Celebrating Scott Owens POET OF THE MONTH for August 2011 IN THIS HIS BIRTH MONTH

Scott Owens  is our Poet of the Month. Not only is this his birth month, we're also celebrating the publication of his new book which just arrived in his hands yesterday--SOMETHING KNOWS THE MOMENT, published at Mainstreet Rag.

Below: Two Poems from his 
newly published book.

Scott Owens is the author 
of 7 collections of poetry with over 800 poems published in journals and anthologies. He is the recipient of awards from the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Academy of American Poets, the NC Writers' Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. He holds an MFA from UNC Greensboro and currently teaches at Catawba Valley Community College.

Having His Hands Before Him
Less than All cannot satisfy Man
--William Blake
Having his hands before him
having his arms and shoulders needing work
having his mouth and eyes, feet and loins
and something called the void
God wanted more
so with his big right foot
he split the sky in half
so with the heel of his hand
he shaped the day into light and dark
so with great globules of spit
he hung the sun and moon
pissed the stars across the sky
coughed out clouds
threw down trees and vines
and bushes and grasses
and even a shrub or two.

Still, having his hands before him
his forehead shining
his hair hanging about his face
having his ears and nose and high cheekbones
he wanted more
so with his white teeth
he chewed up bits of earth
and molded tiger and lamb
dove and whale, serpent and flea
so with his toes
he scratched out a garden
so with his mirror
he chiseled a pair of little gods
so with his mouth
he said, "Be fruitful and multiply
but keep your hands off my tree."

Then, having his hands before him,
having his mirror cracked
his eyebrows knitted together
his lips pursed inward
having his teeth dripping
and his fruit spoiled
he wanted more
so with his eyes
he cried a flood
so with his breath
he blew up wind
to knock down towers and walls
so with his tongue
he burned a bush
and etched in stone
and lapped the center of the sea.

Having his hands before him
his fingers plucking his skin
having his chest bared
his belly grown round
his buttocks pushing out
he wanted more
so with his pelvis
he had a son
so with his silence
he nailed him to a tree
so with the shadow of his hand
he took him back
and with his long spine
he lay down beside him
and wept deep
into the hands before him.
God, Creating the Birds, 

Envisions Adam
Detail from the North Porch of Chartres Cathedral
No feathers, no fins. Each thing he wanted
to outdo the last. How now could he
surpass these flowers of the air, his mind
already tired, his hands sore, his body
spent from shaping. Nothing less than himself
would do, he thought. His own image
in miniature, puppet, mannequin, mirror
that moves. Important now to forget the early
mistakes, jellyfish, plankton, platypus,
to focus on this final act of creation.

In the darkness he saved from his own
restless hands he drank the wine he'd created,
his only company the quiet angels of his mind,
yes-men with halos and swords.
He will have no wings. That night
he slept the troubled sleep of dreams.
He saw faces that mocked his own,
fingers that picked his skin apart,
mouths that spat in the hands that made them.
His teeth will be like white soldiers, angry and hard.

Early the next day, his eyes barely open,
his head still humming from the night before,
he scraped the flesh from his own face,
opened a mouth, pressed his thumb hard
into the wells of eyes, pulled up ears
and nose, stretched out torso, arms, legs,
fingers, toes. He worked for hours shaping
the supple curve of back, rounding the buttocks,
pinching the tight cup of prick and balls.
His hands will be like these, clumsy and precise.

At last he draped it over the white sticks
he cherished, measured out sinew and nerve,
vein and gut, planted the bright seed
of his favorite tree in the loam of brain,
stood back, looked, retched,
dredged the life again from his lungs,
spat it into the mouth, called it
man, son of God, keeper of earth,
dropped it headfirst, naked, crying,
bruised and bloody to the ground.

"Why ask where none can answer?" Scott Owens' collection,Something Knows the Moment, poses this question and accompanies it with a hundred others about the nature of God, the nature of faith, of doubt, of trust and distrust, disillusion and resignation. Occasionally the subject of hope is addressed: "Here at least there is ice cream / and poetry, there are flowers" in the midst of "the nothing that surrounds us all." The answer to that first searching question is, We ask because we cannot help but ask. --These poems are necessary.
-- Fred Chappell, NC Poet Laureate




Glenda Beall said...

Looks like Scott has another winner with this new book. He will be teaching a workshop in October at Writers Circle in Hayesville, and he will be featured at Writers' Night Out in Hiawassee the night before the workshop.
Happy Birthday, Scott.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Hi Nancy, Scott's new book arrived today in the mail, so I'm glad to see this post. I've been taking a break from blogging pretty much; it's been a summer full of distractions, but I'm hoping that with a breath of cool fall air, I'll feel more energetic.
I saw Scott at the end of the month at the NC Writers Conference in Asheville. Some good folks there--Val Nieman, Pam Duncan, Joe Bathanti. Wish you could have joined us.