Knowing we had limited time yesterday for a visit to Reader’s Corner in Raleigh, our favorite used bookstore, we struck a deal. “I’ll stay out of the airplane section,” said Johnpaul. “And I’ll stay out of the cookbooks,” I promised, right before we parted ways by Poetry.
What is it about a used bookstore on a rainy day? The scent alone–a combination of mildew, Grandma’s old linen, a dash of dog, I’m convinced–is an elixir, exacerbated by rain. There is also the promise of a literary adventure on an otherwise dreary February day. Simply put, there is nowhere I’d rather be.
Where else but Reader’s Corner can you find an entire section on castles? Where else has such a marvelous display of literary knickknacks, such as those little notes left behind by previous owners? And where else can you find an overflow of Charles Dickens in the rest room?
The best part about a used bookstore is not what you go to get–you may not leave with this–but the serendipitous discovery of what you didn’t know you needed. And in my case, this was a compendium of wisdom on dreams, a definitive biography of Frederick Law Olmstead (the brains behind many famous American landscapes), and short stories by Henry James and Donald Barthelme. And for Johnpaul, for whom 4 copies of Moby Dick are not enough, he ended up with a portable Melville (letters and stories) and of all things, a witty guide to palindromes and anagrams.
In celebration of the approach of Valentine’s Day, here’s a sentence palindrome just for the Romeos and Juliets among us…”Won’t lovers revolt now?” If you think about it, this expression is perfect for book lovers too. We know that a tiny little revolution always happens in the bookstore. Because we’re never the same people we were when we walk out that door.
You don’t have to open a book to plunge into the history of our state. Try visiting a little town like Ether. Although they often fell victim to North Carolina’s all-too-brief gold rush or the decline of our textile mills, these little communities are coping in their own way. And even with tiny populations, many of these towns still have enough life to make a visit a rewarding and poignant experience.
The little town of Ether, Montgomery County, N.C., inspired my poem for today.
To catch up on my progress so far, I hope you’ll breeze through the daily list to read:
#19 – The Harry She Loved
#18 – RU OK?
#17 – Small Failures
#16 – Small Miracles
#15 – Inclined to Mischief
You’ll also enjoy reading the work of my fellow poets, which inspire me every day. If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. Scroll down read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!
Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.
Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.
It’s a snow weekend, so while my fellow writers may be waxing about the icy stuff, the white glare outside my window takes me somewhere else entirely. Somewhere warmer! Over Thanksgiving, Johnpaul and I traveled to Atlantic Beach and took a side trip to Beaufort, where we walked through The Old Burying Ground. Here we found the saddest grave, that of a little girl buried in a rum keg. Ever seen it? What’s most provocative are the pop culture relics surrounding the final resting place of a little girl who wouldn’t have known what to do with Air Heads candy or or lip gloss from Bath and Body.
Seeking a new creative writing prompt? Here is a prompt I discovered for poetry but can be easily used for fiction as well. Within the course of a single day, simply make note of 5 random phrases — either overheard directly by you or contributed by friends, preferably not from movies or TV. A poem or story devised around little snippets of the real world around you results in fresh and unusual word combinations. It’s also unbelievably fun.
Hint: It helps to start with at least a rough idea of some sort of action, if not a story, and as in the case of my poem, it can be lifted from reality or imagination. I think you’ll find that the “random” phrases you use will spark your imagination in many directions!
Let’s look at an example. Here is one I wrote last week with 5 phrases that came my way. At the very end you will see a “key” for the source of the phrases.
I Write the Book You Play the Fiddle
Do you ever close your eyes and draw
your finger down a state map—
any state but yours—and land
on a town with a name that sounds
a lot like a town in your state
Jonesville or something like that
if the people in that Jonesville
are anything like
the people in your Jonesville
imagine yourself strolling
Main Street and going into
a coffee shop only to
hear those people say
things like not
my circus, not my monkeys
or I write the book you play the fiddle,
and that’s a separate conversation
looking up at you like they know you
and having the waitress slide you a latte
just the way you like it with the cream
so high you have to swirl it before
you take a sip and
then seeing the old man
who looks just like your grandpa pat
the seat beside him and tell you
the people in this place are as thick
as the hair on a dog’s back and you
not knowing whether that’s a good thing
or a bad thing but because everyone laughs
you decide it’s a good thing and the next
you know it’s getting late so you say
See you tomorrow to your new friends
but add maybe because you’re not sure
you got here in the first place?
I write the book you play the fiddle — conversation overheard by Ashley between two students at Lenoir Dining Hall at UNC
not my circus, not my monkeys – Melissa K., a co-worker
that’s a separate conversation – Melissa K.
people in here as as thick as the hair on a dog’s back – Brian W., another co-worker
See you tomorrow maybe – overheard by my son on a NYC subway
In less than two weeks (Oct. 9), Naked and Hungry will make its official debut at McIntyre’s Fine Books in Fearrington Village here in Pittsboro. It’s the ideal bookstore for book lovers. Why? It’s cozy yet full of wonderful little nooks to explore. It’s also a cook’s paradise because they are known for their outstanding cookbook selection and for being a regular venue for celebrity chefs such Paula Deen and Giada DeLaurentis. Our wannabe chef, H.T., would undoubtedly approve!
I’ll be reading in the area known as “Pete’s Mystery Room” which is named after McIntyre’s bookseller and mystery lover, Pete Mock. (It’s wrapped rather charmingly in crime scene tape, by the way.) If you attend an open mic event (held on the first Wednesday of every quarter), you might be lucky enough to hear Pete read from his own work-in-progress, which I hope he finishes soon.
What are you doing on October 9 at 2 p.m.? If you love books, quaint country settings (with black and white cows!), and want to show your appreciation for one of the south’s best independent bookstores, I hope you’ll plan to join us. I’ll be reading from the book, but most importantly, celebrating the many family and friends who have made this event possible. I can’t say it enough, so again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and belief in me.
P.S. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to register for 1 of 10 free copies of Naked and Hungry on the Good Reads Giveaway. You’ve got four days!
Just returned from the 10th Annual Celebration of Farmers at the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market, a surprisingly extensive local market founded in 1874, which makes it one of the state’s oldest. The market offers a variety of seasonal produce, home-baked goods and even crafts, such as jewelry and crocheted hand-towels.
My good friend Donna Myers from high school organized this event, which offered a delicious country breakfast on red-checkered table cloths and live music. I recommend the biscuits and homemade strawberry jam! All total, there were more than 100 attendees, some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. These included tobacco and corn farmers, members of a Peruvian friendship mission, even Presbyterian minister-song writers. A highlight was my friend Cosmo pictured to the left showing off his new trick. Paws up to Naked and Hungry!
A special thanks to Donna for inviting me, and to Claudia and Charlie Griffin for their hospitality and cheerful help setting up the Naked and Hungry tent. Couldn’t have done it without you! Also, thank you Yolanda and Emma for making the trek from Durham to hear the reading. Wish I’d gotten your picture!
For more pictures, check out our Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market album.