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Kathryn Stripling Byer grew up in southwest Georgia, graduated from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and earned her Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied with Allen Tate, Fred Chappell, and Robert Watson. Her books of poetry include Catching Light (Louisiana State University Press, 2002); Black Shawl (1998); Wildwood Flower (1992), which was the 1992 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest (1986), which was published in the Associated Writing Programs award series.
Kathryn Stripling Byer has received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. She is poet-in-residence at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.
In her latest, Coming to Rest. North Carolina's poet laureate engages the contradictions inherent in the act of coming home, exploring the step-by-step leaving and returning--and finding "home" transformed because of the journey.
Coming to Rest - COASTAL PLAIN
The only clouds
forming are crow clouds,
the only shade, oaks
bound together in a tangle of oak
limbs that signal the wind
coming, if there is any wind
stroking the flat
fields, the flat
swatch of corn.
Far as anyone's eye can see, corn's
dying under the sky
that sky that repeats itself either as sky
or as water
that won't remain water
for long on this highway: its shimmer
is merely the shimmer
of one more illusion that yields
to our crossing as we ourselves yield
to our lives, to the roots
of our landscape. Pull up the roots
And what do we see but the night
soil of dream, the night
Copyright © 2006 by Kathryn Stripling Byer