Spotlight: Weekend of words

courtesy of West End Poetry Festival

courtesy of West End Poetry Festival

West End Poetry Festival in Carrboro

by Mimi Montgomery

You don’t have to be an experienced wordsmith to attend the West End Poetry Festival in Carrboro. Hosted October 16 and 17 by the Carrboro Poets Council, the gathering marks the 10th anniversary of the festival, and will feature poetry readings, workshops, an open mic, and exhibits from publishers. Participating poets and facilitators include Ansel Elkins, Michael Gaspeny, Maura High, Tsitsi Jaji, Terry L. Kennedy, Susan Spalt, L. Lamar Wilson, and Celisa Steele. “We’re excited,” says Steele, the Carrboro Poet Laureate and a member of the Poets Council. “We really try to have the festival bring together a diverse group of folks, and the poets so far represent a good range of styles, points in career, and backgrounds.” To give you a preview of the weekend’s literary greatness, we’ve included two poems from Steele and Ansel Elkins, both of whom will be at the event.

courtesy of West End Poetry Festival

courtesy of West End Poetry Festival

Autobiography of Eve

by Ansel Elkins

Wearing nothing but snakeskin

boots, I blazed a footpath, the first

radical road out of that old kingdom

toward a new unknown.

When I came to those great flaming gates

of burning gold,

I stood alone in terror at the threshold

between Paradise and Earth.

There I heard a mysterious echo:

my own voice

singing to me from across the forbidden

side. I shook awake—

at once alive in a blaze of green fire.

Let it be known: I did not fall from grace.

I leapt

to freedom.

-Reprinted from Blue Yodel by Ansel Elkins with
permission from Yale University Press-


To a Son on the Verge of Divorce

by Celisa Steele

The first time you really cried—

not I’m hungry or I’m tired

but I’m hurt—I’d snapped

the car seat buckle shut,

your perfect two-month-old skin

caught in the plastic jaws. I can still see

the shock and inscrutable thoughts

in your eyes. Then a wail, a keening akin

to the lament of all the centuries’ forlorn,

the orphaned, the widowed and wounded.

Imagine crying

with such conviction

still. As if the worst

that can be done

is done. As though the heart

weren’t a mutt chained

in the muddy yard

of another midnight,

where it barks and howls

until, one day, we have no choice

but to cut it free.

-Reprinted from Broad River Review-


For more information on the festival, visit