Archive for the 'Red Tower' Category

Poet David Rigsbee awarded 2013 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship

Friday, November 30th, 2012 by Brian Seidman

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded David Rigsbee a 2013 Creative Writing Fellowship, given to “outstanding poets.” Rigsbee is one of only forty poets to receive the grant, out of over 1,000 who applied. Rigsbee’s most recent collection of verse, The Red Tower: New & Selected Poems, was published by NewSouth Books in 2010.

David Rigsbee, a native of North Carolina, is the author of numerous full-length collections of poems, including The Red Tower. He is co-editor of Invited Guest: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Southern Poetry and has been the recipient of other fellowships and prizes from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Virginia Commission on the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Djerassi Foundation, and the Academy of American Poets.

Rigsbee said that the grant “means I will certainly now have time and means to write another collection. The arts, including the literary arts, are the testament of our long national dream, and the NEA represents a robust public recognition of this fact. As such, the NEA is far from a taxpayer burden, as some would have it. In reality, it is a treasure that assists immeasurably in helping us know what it means to be American through works of the imagination.”

The NEA has provided creative writing fellowships since 1967. In a statement, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said the projects and authors awarded the grants “are among the most creative, the most effective, and will make a real impact. I am proud to announce these [Creative Writing Fellowships] and I look forward to seeing the projects come to fruition for the benefit of both the grantees and their communities across the country.”

NewSouth Books wishes David Rigsbee a hearty congratulations on this achievement.

David Rigsbee’s The Red Tower: New & Selected Poems is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Verse Daily features poem by David Rigsbee, and more about The Red Tower, Rigsbee’s new book of selected verse

Friday, December 10th, 2010 by Noelle Matteson

The Red Tower by David RigsbeeIn what NewSouth would call a different kind of poetic justice, we were delighted to learn that a poem by David Rigsbee from the newly published The Red Tower was featured on Verse Daily this past Sunday (December 5). The poem called “Equinox” observes, “It is the Equinox, and today I feel / the thrall that reconciles the animal / and the hole, cloud and lake, the sexes.” Verse Daily selects a single poem a day for featuring on its website in an effort to promote poets and poetry on the internet.

In his review of The Red Tower for Wild Goose Poetry Review, Scott Owens refers to “Equinox” as one of his favorite Rigsbee poems.

On the importance of Rigsbee’s work, Owens says: “Throughout his decades-long work, Rigsbee has encouraged us to live better, to make life better, by embracing the present tense.”

The Cortland Review, an international poetry journal, made The Red Tower its featured book in their November issue. Read through and listen to audio clips on the journal’s website; it also includes Rigsbee’s review of Stephen Dobyns’s Winter’s Journey.

Rigsbee’s work was acknowledged in NYC recently, when he was asked to read his ode to Nicolas Carone at a memorial service for the artist. One of the early New York Abstract Expressionists, winner of the Prix de Rome in 1941, and a friend of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, Carone passed away last summer. In Rigsbee’s words, he was a “Ulysses / who learned to chisel frowns from quarried stone, / who painted ugliness like an angel.” Read the full poem in The Brooklyn Rail.

Rigsbee will read from The Red Tower at a joint poetry reading with Peter Makuck on Wednesday, January 12, at 7 p.m. at FlyLeaf Books in Chapel Hill. Makuck will read from selections of twenty-five new poems and forty years of his own work. To learn more about other readings and events for David Rigsbee, visit David Rigsbee’s official website.

David Rigsbee’s The Red Tower: New & Selected Poems is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online bookstore.

Poet David Rigsbee to Win Sam Ragan Award

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

David Rigsbee, whose book The Red Tower: New and Selected Poems will be published by NewSouth in September 2010, will receive the Sam Ragan Award for Distinguished Service to North Carolina Arts Thursday, February 4 at St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

“Each year, we honor distinguished North Carolinians, past and present,” said Ron Bayes, chair of the Ragan Awards Committee. “Honorees are persons who have, over a long period, been outstanding practitioners of their art, and who have selflessly shared their talent with other creators, working in their primary genre and beyond.”

Rigsbee contributes to literature not only as a published poet, sporting 12 full books and two more in publication for 2010, but also as an editor. He is a regular reviewer for The Courtland Review. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, North Atlantic Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Poetry Review and The St. Andrews Review.

The Sam Ragan Fine Arts Awards were initiated in 1981 to honor of Sam Ragan, North Carolina’s first Secretary of Cultural Resources, and to celebrate the fact that North Carolina was the first of the United States to establish a cabinet-level position recognizing the fine arts.

Of the award and the importance of Sam Ragan, Rigsbee says, “Sam Ragan single-handedly made North Carolina poetry a part of North Carolina literature—at least as far as the public is concerned. He was a friend to all Southern poets—and a considerable poet himself—encouraging writers throughout the region, publishing reviews, giving readings, tirelessly sitting on way too many panels, and directing the resources of the state to promote its lyric art. As for me, I’ve tried to take Sam’s cue and do my part to help promote Southern poetry as a bona fide division—not just a curio—of Southern literature. I am a poet, editor, and reviewer, just like Sam, and yet there the similarity stops. Yet this is an important award for me, not because it recognizes any achievement of mine but as an affirmation of the ongoing spirit of literary culture in the South. Sam’s very name is an imprimatur, much like Garrison Keillor’s in Minnesota, Larry McMurtry’s in Texas, or Wallace Stegner’s in California. To be associated with his name is itself an honor. The fact that I knew Sam and that he also knew and said nice things about my own work is a special plus.”

Following the presentation of the awards, Rigsbee will share some of his written works during the Fortner Writers’ Forum beginning at 8 p.m. in Orange Main Lounge. The forum is free and open to the public.

Previous recipients of the Sam Ragan award have included Gov. Bob Scott, David Brinkley, Loonis McClohon, Kathryn Gurkin, Paul Jeffrey, Sally Nixon, Sally Buckner, and the Right Rev. Shelby Spong.

David Rigsbee Remembers Poet, Novelist George Garrett

Monday, June 2nd, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Poet David Rigsbee offered this remembrance of Southern novelist and poet George Garrett, who died at the end of May 2008, at 78.

A poet of Jonsonian inclinations—which is to say, classical (in form), sardonic, epigrammatic, and academic (in the best sense), George Garrett found an itinerant sophistication and wordliness sometimes inadequate for coming to terms with the world’s savvy indifference to the characteristics he valued most: sympathy, tenderness, wit, public responsibility, and the sanctity of private passion. But his best poems succeed and are most humanly appealing when, as was not infrequently the case, the most gracious moments were scaled back by modest and witty admissions of his own shortcomings. As a device, being in-the-know serves not only as check against the grandiosity that commonly shadows our ideals, it also configures the speaker in such a way that we stand to calibrate the truth of his expressions against a known measure.

Garrett created an ambient sympathy through the revelation of imperfection, and this creation in turn modeled a larger sympathy—one of his cornerstone themes. Moreover, because the speaker allowed the reader to have something on him, he relinquished the right to put on the kind of rhetorical moves that tempt lesser poets to dispense with the spade work of making meaning. For instance, in “Luck’s Shining Child,” the poet-teacher decompresses both himself and his pedagogy:

When I cross the gravel parking lot
one foot winces

and I have to hop along on the other.
My students believe I am trying
to prove something.

They think I’m being a symbol of
dichotomy, duality, double-dealing,
yin and yang.

I am hopping because it hurts.
Because there is a hole in my shoe.

Of couse the irony is that literature, including this poem, often is a kind of double-dealing, but the further point is that misuse of language, whether via rhetoric or any other linguistic means, was never a right in the first place, particularly for poets. It can never by conferred, accepted, or for that matter, usurped—as a result of which language acquires a sanctity like that of life itself.

There are poets of language and poets of disposition. Garrett’s strength lay in the fact that he often seemed one at the moment when he was most being the other. This trick made him the most Elizabethan of southern poets, and it should come as no surprise that he wrote three best-selling novels about the period, The Death of the Fox (1971), about poet and courtier Sir Walter Ralegh, The Succession, about Elizabeth I (1983), and Entered from the Sun (1990), about the death of poet and playwright Christopher Marlow. Elizabethan richness and the attraction of such a close involvement with prosodic variety—as symbolic of diminishing, but still recoverable (if only quotational or elegiac) harmonies, allowed Garrett to create expectations of fullness and presence that ran counter to postmodern discoveries of emptiness and absence in the same poetic culture.

Interestingly, while circling the English language’s high historical moment by means of its poets (one—Ralegh—a consummate man of letters and the world) and declaring by example his own affiliation with the sympathies and communitarianism created by such an intensity of shared language awareness, Garrett declined to incorporate Shakespeare within this pantheon. In fairness, it should be said that the missing center is less likely to be the postmodernist’s blind spot, aporia, or missing center, than the (always) final destination of a gradus ad parnassum.

David Rigsbee’s poetry collection The Red Tower is forthcoming from NewSouth Books.