Creativity Magazine

Kathryn Stripling Byer

By Vickilane
Kathryn Stripling Byer
As I write this on Sunday night, it appears that Kathryn Stripling Byer, first woman to be named North Carolina poet laureate, is leaving us after a struggle with cancer. She is in hospice care and friends have been keeping a vigil on her Facebook page by posting various of her beautiful poems.  Kay has been a tireless advocate for the arts and for social justice and she has worked to bring poetry -- the reading and the writing of it -- into the schools. I met Kay some years ago when we were both teaching at a writing retreat and was instantly drawn to her, partly because we seemed to share a love/hate relationship with our Southern upbringing and a delight in our adopted home in the mountains of North Carolina.   For several years we followed and commented on each other's blogs and Kay reawakened my love of poetry as she shared her own beautiful, sly, singing verse, as well as that of other poets I'd not known of.   Her generosity as a friend and a teacher was legendary and her going will leave an empty space in the hearts of those who were privileged to have known her. But we will still have her beautiful poetry . . .
Kathryn Stripling Byer
Big Tease Little by little, the earth sheds  her veils. Lets her white blossoms  tremble. The river shakes out her blue shimmy and scrubs it to smithereens over the singing rocks, leaving her sunny side up, such a tease that I sway to her music as if I were Salome's sister and not an old woman who knows that the inkblot of sky on this page of my daybook will soon begin fading, because how can anyone, even Great Grandaddy Death stay asleep amid so much awakening?                                                     Kathryn Stripling Byer
Into the Light, dear Kay.
Kathryn Stripling Byer

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