The N.C. Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship program named 15 artists from across the state who received awards. Among those were three Buncombe County residents: Keith Flynn, John Cloyd Miller and Catherine Reid.
About each of the artists:
About Keith Flynn (Literature, Poetry)
“Because poetry is language with a shape, and requires constant improvisation, its challenges are infinite,” says Keith Flynn, Founder and Managing Editor of The Asheville Poetry Review.
“Perhaps I’m in love with flux, the beauty and mystery of constantly becoming, because the search is the thing, not the arrival. It is the hunt for the poem that should challenge us, shaping time into orderly forms, though it sometimes feels like herding fleas into a water glass,” he said.
Flynn’s Colony Collapse Disorder (Wings Press, San Antonio, TX, 2013) was nominated for the National Book Award and the Thomas Wolfe Prize. His poetry collection, The Golden Ratio (Iris Press, Oak Ridge, Tenn., 2007), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and was runner-up for the Roanoke-Chowan award and the Oscar Arnold Young prizes. The Rhythm Method, Razzmatazz and Memory: How To Make Your Poetry Swing (Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2007), was described by former North Carolina Poet Laureate Fred Chappell as “one of the most engaging, soulful, generous, and truly exciting books that I have ever read,” and was chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of its Ten Most Notable Books for Poetry Criticism. Flynn was named Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for North Carolina in 2005 and 2006, and his Asheville Poetry Review, established in 1994, has published more than 1800 writers from 22 different countries.
“Colony Collapse Disorder is a book of journeys, journeys across the world, journeys of conscience and witness, journeys of spiritual discovery,” writes novelist and poet Robert Morgan. “Flynn is one of our finest contemporary troubadours, heir to Bop, to the Beats, the poetry of Rock and Roll, the roar of Walt Whitman, and the seduction of cinema.”
Asheville Times writer Rob Neufeld observes, “Flynn has a genius for sound—not just tone, but also shape, movement, and instrumentation. Though there are themes to which he returns—for instance, the adoption of the feminine principle to counter ecological destruction—his main theme pertains to sound.”
“Poetry is the right combination ‘of algebra and fire,’ according to Borges, but I am always trying to make the tightest, smallest sentences and to condense the amount of dross,” Flynn said. “This is the infernal chase, to make poems where the artifice of labor disappears and the seams dissolve. All art is the elimination of the unnecessary, and poetry is the record of hidden things in commerce with one another, but that interaction must be musical. The page is a cold bed. Poetry has to live in the air.” His website is: www.keithflynn.net
About John Cloyd Miller (Music, Songwriting)
“I love bluegrass and old-time music, and certainly consider myself to be a ‘traditional’ North Carolina musician,” says Asheville songwriter John Cloyd Miller. “However, I feel that any music needs to grow and evolve to a certain extent to stay viable. I feel that you can be a musician who is firmly rooted in tradition while crafting new sounds and new stories.”
“Like everyone else, I grew up with popular music all around me, but there was a strong current of bluegrass and traditional music in my family as well,” Miller says. He credits his grandfather, pioneering bluegrass fiddler Jim Shumate, with being a huge inspiration. “Knowing that he was a songwriter gave me the incentive to start writing my own songs.” Shumate was a 1995 N.C. Arts Council Heritage Award recipient.
Miller won first place in the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest in the bluegrass category at the 2013 MerleFest for his song, “Cloud of Dust,” and recorded two highly acclaimed albums, Remember Me Well (2010) and Beauty Will Come (2012), with the trio Red June. He considers himself to be a “new traditionalist” in terms of his music, and takes pride in “performing at wonderful venues all across the country, carrying on my family tradition of music and writing songs that people connect with.” His website is: www.johncloydmiller.com
About Catherine Reid (Literature, Creative Nonfiction)
“I’m clumsy with speech; my words can’t keep up with my thinking,” admits Catherine Reid, director, undergraduate creative writing at Warren Wilson College. “With writing, however, I can shape and reshape, experimenting with sounds and rhythms, with the compression of scenes and behaviors to their bare essentials.”
Reid’s publications include Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004; Mariner Books, 2005), Falling into Place: An Intimate Geography of Home (Beacon Press, 2014) and the essay, “After a Sweet Singing Fall Down,” (Georgia Review, Winter 2012.) She received the Appalachian College Association Faculty Fellowship Award (2012–2013) and the Baron Creative Writing Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA (October 2012).
Of Coyote, author Jane Brox wrote, “Catherine Reid’s search for the eastern coyote leads to all the larger questions of our human place in the world—our inextricable bonds with the wild, and our separateness from it. She grants these questions their complexity and difficulty, and does so in graceful, intimate, and vibrant prose… an important, beautiful book.”
“Early in my writing life, I focused on fiction and poetry, but creative nonfiction got me by the throat, demanding the kind of honesty and rigor that gave new meaning to the act of sitting down to write, channeling observations, personal struggles, and unlikely juxtapositions,” Reid says. “When crafting essays, or sections of Coyote, or the introductions for the anthologies I edited (Every Woman I’ve Ever Loved and His Hands, His Tools, His Dress, His Sex), there were days when the writing felt terrifying, like scaling rock faces without a rope. I could hardly bear it at times, and, of course, I couldn’t stop, heading into yet another paragraph, onto yet another steep, bare ridge.” Her website is: www.catherinereid.org