04/05/13 — Poetry winners read

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Poetry winners read

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 5, 2013 1:46 PM

From peanut butter sandwiches to works of art to society, poems were read about it all recently at Herman Park Center.

The readers were local winners of the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet awards for 2013 and included Shari Berk, Kyle Darby, Matt Gaylord and Candace Lancaster. Joining them and reading some of his poems was professor Michael White with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Ms. Berk's first poem was one that White had assigned -- to find a piece of art and write about it.

"I did it on a piece of artwork that had been done by Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud, which had been sold for $34 million," she said. "I call it 'The Price of Beauty.'"

She also wrote "Revisiting History" about her history class, and a poem dedicated to her grandmother when she died.

Another poem that was done as part of her application process for the Gilbert award was done in the style of Emily Dickinson. It was about her friend's dog Kobi on a rainy night. Kobi is a Siberian Husky.

Ms. Berk also read her "Sonnet to the Airmen of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base."

"Living here in Goldsboro, it's so inspiring," she said of the airmen.

The process of writing poems is an involved one for Ms. Berk as she does many drafts of each one before she considers it finished.

"I've learned that you have to take a poem and put it in a drawer for a while, then see what stands out as not being exactly right or too trite or overused," she said.

"My inspiration comes from the world around me. Like the sonnet to Seymour Johnson airmen, which was a love song to the folks who sacrifice so much."

Ms. Berk also uses her friends and family as subjects for her poetry.

She said White taught her to step outside the box and write about things she would not normally write about.

"What I love the most about poetry is that you have a concrete space to convey what you want to convey accurately," Ms. Berk said. "It's almost like mathematics in a way."

Darby started with his most recent poem, a dream poem.

"It's this ambiguous imagery that would happen in a dream," he said. "It's a weird consciousness."

Then came his poem about a peanut butter sandwich.

"We were supposed to write about 13 ways of looking at something," Darby said. "I was eating a peanut butter sandwich that day, so I decided to write about it."

He gets his inspiration from a metaphor that he sees in a movie or a line or two from a song.

"I end up with two or three lines that are really good and a bunch of other junk," Darby said. "It's all there just to complement those two lines. Then I change the junk, add two more lines, then two more lines until I get what I want."

But in the end, if it's a good poem in Darby's eyes, he's proud of what he's done.

"I don't really write for other people," he said. "I write for myself. I'm not much into telling people what my poems are about. I know what they are about and that's the end of the story."

Also reading his poems was Gaylord, starting with "Imagine 2013."

"It's based loosely on John Lennon's 'Imagine' piece he did years ago," he said. "It's talking about it being a new world. It's real deep."

He also read "President Real" and a sonnet he did for the Gilbert award, which contains a lot of illusions, imagery and metaphors.

"X" is the most recent poem Gaylord did.

"It's one of my favorite pieces," he said. "It's about past and current situations and growing up in America. It's universal. I feel like it relates to a lot of different people, a broad demographic."

Gaylord gets his inspiration from his grandmother, who was a language arts teacher, and his grandfather, who was active in the church and civil rights in the 1960s and '70s. And from his parents who taught him the importance of being true to himself.

The winners will also read their poems at the 11th annual Walking Into April Poetry Day April 13 at Barton College.