Five North Carolina Poets You Need to Read

North Carolina Poets

April’s almost over, but did you know April is National Poetry Month? In celebration, I present five must-read poets who hail from North Carolina. Read their work. Read it all.

Robert Morgan Cornell University (from Hendersonville, NC)
Morgan (no relation that I’m aware of) is to North Carolina what Frost was to Massachusetts. His latest collection, TERROIR, is an ode to the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He’s written some fantastic novels (GAP CREEK) and nonfiction (BOONE) as well.

From The Living Tree
I like to think
that when I’m gone the chemicals
and yes the spirit that was me
might be searched out by subtle roots
and raised with sap through capillaries
into an upright, fragrant trunk

Kathryn Stripling Byer Western Carolina University, Cullowhee (formerly)
Byer’s collections BLACK SHAWL and WILDWOOD FLOWER are some of the first North Carolina poetry I can remember reading. Think of O’Conner and Faulkner’s Southern Gothic set to verse in the North Carolina mountains.

From Halloween Again
and time slides like silk
against silk.
Easy to get lost
in letting go
this time of year.

Cathy Smith Bowers Queens University, Charlotte
LIKE SHINING FROM SHOOK FOIL brings together the best poems from Bowers’ first four chapbooks. Her voice is distinctly Southern without sounding clichéd.

From Kingdom
When my brother
finally spoke its name,
the white cells of his body
having relinquished
their ancient
instruments of war
the small bombs

Ron Rash Western Carolina University, Cullowhee
Rash is famous for his novels SERENA and THE COVE, but he’s also prolific poet and short story writer. His latest collection, WAKING, is his best yet.

From Fall Creek
As though shedding an old skin,
Fall Creek slips free from fall’s weight,
clots of leaves blackening snags,
back of pool where years ago
local lore claims clothes were shed
by a man and woman wed

Joseph Bathanti Appalachian State University, Boone
North Carolina’s newest Poet Laureate, Bathanti’s poetry is decidedly haunting. Try THIS METAL.

From Burn Season
Smoke fills the house with musk.
Ants spill from the wood
at the first trickle of flame.
Beneath the buckling bark,
grubs and glowworms disintegrate.


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