National Poetry Month – Karon Luddy

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

outside

for God

to easily see if

He so desired,

but I longed to

bring them indoors

where God knows

we needed something beautiful.

 

First Grade

In a room

that smelled

of pencil shavings and vomit

I met twenty-six lifelong friends —

letters that were sometimes

big and sometimes small

according to where they

found themselves

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.

 

Joy Ride

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to National Poetry Month – Karon Luddy

  1. Beautiful soul and wonderful poems I failed to reread for fat too long!

  2. Karon Luddy says:

    Kim Blum-Hyclack, thanks for such a lovely introduction. Your curiosity, sheer determination, and contagious joy have inspired so many of your fellow writers. Thanks for your presence in my life.
    With all due respect and adoration,

    Karon Luddy

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