I’ve known Karon so long I almost forgot how we met. It was almost 20 years ago at a poetry reading at Barnes and Noble in Charlotte, NC. Cathy Smith Bowers was the poet. There were a handful of people there, none of us knew one other. After the reading six of us started talking, and decided to form a poetry critique group. Cathy went on to become the NC Poet Laureate. The six of us continued to meet monthly for five or six years. We’ve remained friends supporting one another through all our various writing endeavors.
When I think of Karon Luddy I think bigger than life. She’s fearless in her living and in her writing. This is one of my favorite pictures of her because her sense of joy is ever-present. Her sense of sacred is boundless and is reflected in her poetry, her photography and just how she approaches life.
Here are her answers to the questions I posed. The first poem I can remember writing was when I was twenty. The subject was about graffiti on a bathroom stall door.
Emily Dickinson is my choice for interview in poetry heaven.
Here are some poems from her book, Wolf Heart, published through Clemson University Digital Press. Posted with the poet’s permission.
Where Zinnias Used to Grow
One fiercely cold morning,
I decided to be cremated when I died
so that my ashes could be strewn
to fertilize Earth’s memory
of how momma took a maple twig
used it as a drill, twisting and turning it
into the stubborn red clay,
dropping a seed into the hole,
then covering it up and pouring water
from a rusty bucket all around it.
And that was that.
She forgot about them.
But a month later, like green magicians
the sturdy plants pulled flowers out of nowhere
yellow, pink, white, red, orange, gold, and violet;
for weeks, I watched those
unattended blossoms hold on tight,
soaking up every drop of rain
and every ray of sunshine
honored to be in her garden.
She never cut them
she always left them
to easily see if
He so desired,
but I longed to
bring them indoors
where God knows
we needed something beautiful.
In a room
of pencil shavings and vomit
I met twenty-six lifelong friends —
letters that were sometimes
big and sometimes small
according to where they
in a sentence or word
Miss Graham, an up-to-date old maid
who smelled like pickles,
dredged my imagination
for interest in her subject
which was Dick and Jane and Spot
leading their quiet boring lives
forbidden to do anything
that required more than six letters
just so I could learn to read
The words so easy to recognize
I was embarrassed
at my cheap victory —
amazed at how
they settled like orphans
into my fat brain
as if they’d found a
good home without even trying
I loved the way it smelled
when I rubbed
the pink end
of my big fat pencil
across cheap lined paper
exterminating mistakes easily —
brushing them onto
the floor as if
they never occurred.
One jaded June afternoon when I was eleven
I rounded up a few neighborhood kids like forlorn pets
and gave myself a license to drive.
Barely able to see over the steering wheel
I cranked up my brother’s
black and white ’55 Chevy
shifted from Park into Reverse
and backed out of that dusty driveway
while silly little voices squealed in the back seat.
My wolf heart throbbed with joy
as I pushed the dear stick into Drive
and my bare foot pressed the accelerator;
The car surged forward like a great ornery grasshopper
and my dumb cargo started crying
but I paid them no mind.
I steered the Chevy down Highway 200,
turned up the volume on the radio
and sang along with the long-haired boys from Liverpool:
She’s got a ticket to ride, she’s got a ticket to ride,
She’s got a ticket r-I-ide,
but she don’t care.