Cold Spring Rising: The Yadkin BardApr 19th, 2012 | By Julie Joyce | Category: Fiction
Most of my happy high school memories surrounded my senior year, as I knew I’d be getting the heck out of town soon. I was a very happy person for the most part but felt the need to pretend to be miserable, as you should not listen to The Smiths and be well-adjusted. A lot of this false misery came out in my poetry, which I thought was simply dramatic bits of teenage angst…my high school English teacher, John Thomas York, wrote one word on a poem of mine that woke me up quickly: “Trite.” He was right.
You know how you sometimes think “I could write a book!” but then you go and read something by Henning Mankell or Milan Kundera and you realize that no, you probably couldn’t? I feel that way when I read John York’s poetry. The best way to describe his writing is to borrow from the review given by Sarah Lindsey:
“John Thomas York tunes a guitar strung from the stars to the dirt of a farm where memories grow.” (and damn I wish I had written that line!)
I’ll confess that my idea of a good time is not to curl up with a book of poems (mainly because there are no explosions or forensic science in most poetry), yet when I read good poetry, I wonder why I don’t reach for it more often. When I hear it out loud, it’s even better, especially when inflection adds new meaning to the words. When we’re all bombarded with horrific media images of all the bad things going on in the world, when we can’t break away from our smart phones to enjoy dinner with a friend uninterrupted, and when we take medicine to lower our stress-induced blood pressure, we need poetry more than ever.
Last year, the first annual James Applewhite Poetry Prize was awarded to John by the North Carolina Literary Review. That is simply his most recent honor (past others include being a Mellow Fellow at UNC-CH, a recipient of fellowships from the Council for Basic Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the North Carolina English Teachers Association’s Teacher of the Year for 2003.) Most impressive to me though is the fact that he’s been teaching English in the public school system for 3 decades. THREE DECADES. The only thing that I have done consistently for 30 years is enjoy a good bag of Doritos.
His newest published work is Cold Spring Rising and he has several readings lined up (with other talented poets reading as well), as listed below. I highly encourage you to come out, listen to his dulcet Southern tones, and stop texting while driving for an hour. You won’t regret it.
April 23rd reading at the downtown public library
April 27th reading at UNCG’s Elliott University Center