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Pinesong Dedicatee

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2011 Pinesong Dedicatee: Bill Griffin

“Poetry just seems to help us make sense of and discover deeper meaning from the stressful stuff we all encounter every day,” – Bill Griffin.

Sunset, Roanoke Sound

And even if we transients drone
      and scrape along 158
and mercury vapor drowns
the restaurant parking lot
      across the street;
even if the inn veranda obligates
its porch lights to burn behind us
      all night long;
even if exhaust and fryer grease
have swamped the pungent
      marshlife and marshdeath
on the seaward breeze,
                                   even so

the stunted pines jostle aside
      and darken, stark
against the last sky glow,
your own glow where you lean
against the rail and beguile me
      with histories of water
and the people drawn to it,
oaring across the years all
      who will be drawn,
beguiled, captivated,
                 compelled to love.

Beguile, yes, which hints
of trickery but opens
      to embrace, enthrall,
and even if the world and I
grow black still brighter
      you become, while from
your song stray scraps
of contrail and frayed cirrus
      reform, arise,
a great billfish leaping free
of the blue horizon deep
reborn to gold

2010 Pinesong Dedication Text:

Those of us who have attended the North Carolina Poetry Society meetings for the past ten years have been greeted by the warm smile and twinkling eyes of the man who has managed our money and invested it wisely — our treasurer Bill Griffin. Today we express our gratitude to Bill for being our treasurer and for so much more. He shines as a beacon for poetry throughout our state, reaching out with intelligence, compassion, talent, and generosity to everyone along the way.

As a family doctor certified in Family Practice and Geriatrics, Bill has resided in Elkin, North Carolina, since 1981, with his wife Linda, an artist and historian. Bill has many hobbies, and his love of nature permeates many of his poems, especially in Snake Den Ridge, a Bestiary. Bill and his friend Mike Barnett hiked Snake Den Mountain for a week, leading a group of teenagers on a backpacking expedition, where they encountered many of the creatures that speak in Bill’s poems.

Bill affirms, “Poetry just seems to help us make sense of and discover deeper meaning from the stressful stuff we all encounter every day.” As he seeks to share this belief, Bill has spread the infulence of the North Carolina Poetry Society across the state. He has critiqued the poems of new NCPS members, helping them grow in their enthusiasm for poetry. He has also lead poetry workshops throughout the state, inspiring and challenging both new and experienced poets. In his home area Bill organized the Foothills Favorite Poem Project from 2000-2006, where dozens of students and adults came together to celebrate National Poetry Month by reading their favorite poems. In addition to his contributions to NCPS, Bill volunteered as the treasurer and student contest chair for the Poetry Council of North Carolina for several years.

The close alignment between music and poetry stands out, as Bill and Linda sing with the ensemble VOCE based in Mt. Airy. During the 2010 Christmas season the ensemble presented the premier performance of The Wanderer’s Carol, using lyrics written by Bill and the song cycle composed and conducted by Mark Merritt. VOCE performed this program at the Biltmore House in Asheville, for the North Carolina Music Educators’ Association in Winston-Salem, and at the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mt. Airy.

Bill’s poetry has been published in numerous journals, including Southern Poetry Review, NC Literary Review, Pembroke Magazine, Tar River Poetry, POEM, Main Street Rag, Iodine, and many others. In 2004 his chapbook Barb Quill Down came off the press, followed by the chapbook Changing Woman in 2006. The publication of Snake Den Ridge, a Bestiary in 2008 is a joint venture using Bill’s poems and Linda’s art. In Bill’s latest venture, little mouse, published in January 2011 as a finalist in the Main Street Rag chapbook contest, Rhett Trull writes, “We hear little mouse, singing us the earth story. This is our story and little mouse our spirit guide.”

To quote Caren Stuart, a member of the Pinesong 2011 Dedication Committee, “A very gifted poet and lover of poetry, Bill inspires others to read, write, and embrace poetry by sharing his love of the poem. He is truly an inspiration and a great ambassador for the North Carolina Poetry Society. With the spark a poem always puts in his eye, he is a shining example of how poetry can make the soul sing.” It is with great joy that we dedicate this volume of Pinesong to Bill Griffin.

Pinesong 2011 Dedication Committee
Libby Campbell, Chair
Bill Blackley
Caren Stuart
Janice Sullivan

2010 Pinesong Dedicatee: Libby Campbell!

“Poetry deals with the spirit and the soul,” Libby once said.


The six foot plus boy climbs the steps
gripping his science fair display
as if he fears someone may rip it
from his hands.

A Carolina blue cap covers his head
hiding the single sprig of hair remaining
from his battle against acute leukemia.

Like a fledging bird the boy ventures
forth to share a new world with his
teenaged classmates.

The clutched board reveals
Samples of his bone marrow slides,
An outline of his five-year protocol,
Complete with a list of the required
chemo drugs,
Plus their possible side effects.

One hour later this same boy descends
the stairs.

How did it go?

Fine, he responds.

And then…

Did anyone ask you any questions?

One boy inquired,
‘What would happen if you decided
you didn’t want to take chemo anymore
and you quit?’

Your answer?
I just said,
I guess I’d die.

2010 Pinesong Dedication Text:

If poets were wild-flowers, Libby Campbell would be the gardener broadcasting seeds until they burst into bloom and spread in vast expanses of promise and delight. One of her own sixth-grade teachers told Libby, “You are a born teacher. Do not let anything keep you from becoming one.” And become one she did, pursuing a forty-year formal teaching career and now continuing a multifaceted informal one. Throughout her career, Libby’s students let her know how they felt: “It’s so hard to find a genuinely great teacher and I was lucky enough to have three years with one.” “You let us express ourselves in our work like no other teacher would have the nerve to do.” “You’ve taught me how to value myself and my gifts.” “You’ve not only taught me how to write, you’ve taught me how to be.”

A native of Iredell County, Libby began her career in Iowa, soon after college graduation. Prepared to teach high school English, she was asked to teach fifth grade and accepted that challenge. Her students begged to hear this new teacher “speak Southern,” and the pronunciation contrasts became part of Libby’s teaching approach: thereafter, she and her students used the dictionary extensively to explore such differences. That year was followed by fifth-grade and then high-school teaching in Kentucky, where Libby had an experience that powerfully confirmed her career choice. After a serious car accident, she received an outpouring of correspondence from her students, and, in her words, she learned “that young people care about a caring teacher.” Libby later taught again in Iowa and then in Nebraska.

In 1970 Libby returned to Iredell County and began teaching seventh- through ninth-graders at Statesville’s Brookwood School. Her students rewrote and performed Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream in modern English, wrote and presented Reader’s Theatre performances, and offered Story Theater to younger children. Personal tragedy then indelibly shaped Libby’s life when her sixteen-year-old son, Brent, died of leukemia in 1986. After Brent’s death, Libby taught in extended day school and in summer school, with tenth graders who had failed English. Among those students, Libby shared accounts of her son’s illness and death, and they, in turn, wrote about their own vulnerabilities, fears, and hopes. From these and many other students across the years Libby heard, “Thank you for teaching me how to put my feelings on paper.”

The last thirteen years of Libby’s formal teaching career were with academically gifted students in Iredell County schools, with the final nine of those years being at North Iredell Middle School among advanced language arts classes. In 1995 Libby attended a week-long Poetry Alive! seminar in Asheville and eagerly shared the experiences with her students. Together, they spread their love of poetry to eight elementary schools, community groups, the local Children’s Museum, and several state conferences through Poetry Alive! performances, sometimes including their own poetry. Even while helping her students with enunciation, voice projection, and grammar, she always emphasized active enjoymentÑperforming poems as a group, with zest and feeling. To reinforce that focus, she partnered with such poets as Fred Chappell, Ellen Johnston-Hale, Joseph Bathanti, Bill Blackley, Diana Pinckney, and Ann Campanella to offer memorable classroom opportunities.

Libby has received numerous teaching awards, including North Iredell Middle School’s Teacher of the Year, Iredell/Statesville System Finalist for Teacher of the Year, First Union’s Ben Craig Award for Outstanding Educator, and the North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented Teacher of the Year. She has served as a member of Read magazine’s advisory board, coordinated the six-week “NC Reads NC: Our Poets Speak” symposium, facilitated teachers’ poetry workshops, coordinated a six-week series of Iredell Friends of the Library creative writing symposiums, served as the Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest judge, and had articles and poems in such publications as National Squares, Read, and the Iredell Citizen. For the past eight years she has also led a “Reading, Writing, Reminiscing” group at a local assisted-living home, visited students in grades 1-5 at a local elementary school, and coordinated activities in which the two groups share with one another.

The thriving North Carolina Poetry Society Student Contests owe much to Libby’s inspired mentoring. Year after year, Libby’s students received multiple awards, and Libby has continued to attend the annual Awards Day ceremonies to applaud the young people she so admires. For two years Libby served as the Student Contests chairperson, and she has been an invaluable advisor to various committees. From the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poets Series’s inception, Libby has served on the Western regional committee, and she chaired that committee for 2006-2007.

“Poetry deals with the spirit and the soul,” Libby once said. Indeed, that is what you continue to teach us so well, Libby. For your commitment, enthusiasm, radiance, and wisdom we offer our boundless thanks!

Pinesong Dedication Committee:

Sharon Sharp
Leon Hinton
Nancy King
Susan Meyers

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