In the international spirit of this blog, let’s now cyber travel to North Carolina to meet Terri Kirby Erickson. I met Terri in person in Wilmington, N.C., several years ago, I believe at my favorite arts-and-wine haunt, Bottega. Back then I was running my old poetry blog there and stalking people with slips of paper containing my url; she was already being published by the prestigious Press 53, with her collection “Telling Tales of Dusk.” As far as I remember, she was just entering her professional poetry journey, chasing a dream that took a while to get off the ground because life got in the way (many of us are familiar with that, I think). We connected instantly, and I convinced her to let me post some of her work on my Port City Poets blog – time and time again, I am happy to say. I am also very happy to catch up with her again now, even having been out of N.C. and its poetry scene for a while. Before I left for Europe, she had won a contest I put out on my newspaper-hosted blog for the best poem under the theme “Angel of Death,” and has won a bunch of way more prestigious prizes since then, as she reports:
“[I am] the author of four collections of poetry, including In the Palms of Angels (Press 53, 2011), and A Lake of Light and Clouds (Press 53, 2014), from which the two poems below are excerpts. My poetry has won a Nautilus Book Award, the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, the Poetry for their Freedom Award, and many others, and has appeared or is forthcoming in the 2013 Poet’s Market, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, JAMA, Asheville Poetry Review, Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, Muse India, storySouth, The Christian Science Monitor, Verse Daily, and many others.”
Phew! It has been a bit a of a meteoric rise, I would say. A sample of her work might help you understand why. So here is a poem I liked very much and what inspired Terri to write it, in her own words (I will post more of Terri’s poetry in future posts):
“‘Flower Child’ is simply a tribute to my beloved daughter, Gia, who, with her love of music from the 1960’s and her free-spirited outlook on life, would have been entirely comfortable in that era! I often write about people and places I know, but strive to keep my work relatable and universal. It is common for mothers and daughters, I believe, to have differences of opinion and temperament, but these differences are celebrated in this little poem, and the underlying theme is love and acceptance.”
Flower child, where did you come from?
Your hands are bigger than mine, stronger.
They are seldom still. Digging in the dirt, stringing beads
on a necklace, snapping your fingers to a Beatles song—
you are always moving forward, dragging the past
behind you like a streamer. You are happier barefoot,
dancing in the grass, than women
wearing designer shoes, jumping in a pile of money.
Pierced and tattooed, silver bracelets jingling,
you are as different from me as North
is to South. Yet wherever you go, my heart,
like the needle on a compass, follows.
By Terri Kirby Erickson, excerpt,
A Lake of Light and Clouds,