Friday, October 3, 2014

Laurence Avery reads from 'Mountain Gravity' at Park Road Books

Laurence Avery taught for a long, long time at the University in Chapel Hill, and some of that time he served as chairman of the English department. He also wrote articles and books on British and American playwrights, winning the C. Hugh Holman Award for "A Southern Life: Letters of Paul Green." It was Avery who published the definitive edition of Paul Green's Play, "The Lost Colony."

He stayed very busy, but I'm guessing few things brought him the intense pleasure that the writing of the poems in "Mountain Gravity" (New Atlantic Media, $17 paper) brought.

Poet Michael McFee says Avery is "alert, direct, quietly witty, and always thoughtful."

I would add that he is also attentive and quietly opinionated.

His poem, "A Savage Response: the Council of the Iroquois Confederation to the College of William and Mary, 1744," politely refuses the invitation of the college to send its sons to college there and describes the disappointment when some of these sons went off to northern colleges and returned:

"...ignorant of every means / of living in the woods, unable to bear / either cold or hunger; know neither how to / build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy, / spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore / neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor counselors. / They were in plain truth good for nothing at all."

And the poem / letter concludes:

"...if the Gentlemen of Virginia will send us / a dozen of their sons, we will take care / of their education, instruct them in all / we know, and make men of them."

Don't you wish you'd written that!

Laurence Avery Reads from "Mountain Gravity" at  2 p.m., Sunday, at Park Road Books,
Park Road Shopping Center, Charlotte, N.C.