I am very happy to announce that a collection of my poems, TURNINGS: POEMS OF TRANSFORMATION, has been brought out by Wipf and Stock Publishers, of Eugene, Oregon. The striking cover does a fine job of bringing together the sense of mystery out of which our human experience comes, the rough pen we have used to try to express this experience, and the twisted shavings that result from our engagement with the stuff of life.
All through my years as an ethicist I was writing poetry, liturgies, and songs springing from the emotional depths of my own experience and my sense of our common experience as human beings on this planet. In linking these two aspects of my life I can see that both my ethics and my poetry have tried to explore the ways we give shape and meaning to our thoughts, feelings, and actions within the mysterious powers of creativity and love that undergird our existence.
As I looked back over my poems I saw a constant theme of turning, not just because I turn bowls in my wood shop from time to time, but because my life, like most of ours, has consisted of turnings of all kinds. As I said on the book’s back cover, “Like works in wood upon a lathe, these poems are word-turnings that reveal the inner grain of our human experience. They are bowls to catch our turnings of memory, conversion, falling in love, and passing through our seasons and the wrenching turns that mark our lives. Above all these turnings are a shout of praise, a murmur of wonder, a turning away from life as usual, a merciful re-turning to the songs, images and stories that move our lives.”
Several of the people who have encouraged my work have generously provided some words, poetic in themselves, for the back cover to entice readers into the book.
Kenneth Sehested, pastor, poet, peacebuilder, and author of In the Land of the Living: Prayers Personal and Public
“Good poets, like Bill Everett, perform a kind of chicanery of the spirit, distracting our attention just long enough to allow revelation to slip past the guards of preoccupied minds. As in: “Earth gasping . . . Sends lilies up in mourning / the rainbow as a pledge / the cockroach as a warning / the raven as a hedge.”
Kathryn Stripling Byer, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina, and author of Descent, Wildwood Flower, Black Shawl, and other books.
“William Everett’s beautifully structured Turnings gathers together limpid poems of memory that shine like pebbles underneath the clearest flow of water, as well as poems of personal faith and theological wisdom. Rising up from the pages like long-forgotten messages, they glow in the light of Everett’s language: lyrical, crystal clear, as if on the brink of turning into nothing less than song itself.”
J. C. Walkup, Penny Morse, and Buffy Queen, editors of Fresh, where some of my poems have appeared:
“Everett is a master of words, fitting the right words together the way a master mason fits stones to shape beautiful structures. Poems he constructs reflect solid integrity. Readers can depend on his writing to convey thoughtful expressions, ethical conclusions, and invigorating structural styles, selected to match the themes of each piece. His poetry reassures us that all good poetry does not belong to the past.”
Michael Beadle, poet and educator, author of The Invented Hour, and the forthcoming Invitation:
“Everett is a daring poet who leads us deeper into the language of experience. His poems are full of wonder and insight, celebrating the beauty in nature while discovering grace in the mundane. At times meditative, at other turns inventively irreverent, Turnings leads us to reexamine the past and ponder the present, whether it’s a biblical story or a personal memory. Turn the pages and find poems of transformation.”
The book appears in time for National Poetry Month, in which we celebrate the act of turning our experience into words that still contain an openness to the mystery that surrounds our life. I will now turn to introducing it to people in my region as well as through the internet.
You can hear me reading some of the poems and discussing them with the poet’s group at City Lights Bookstore, in Sylva, NC, at their podcast site.
I will be presenting the book at several events in the coming months:
Saturday, April 13, at 3 pm at Blue Ridge Books, S. Main St., Waynesville, NC.
Saturday, April 20, at 4 pm at City Lights Books, Spring St., Sylva, NC.
Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18, at Blue Ridge Bookfest, Blue Ridge Community College, Hendersonville, NC.
Sunday, July 7, at 3 pm at Malaprop’s Bookstore, Haywood St., Asheville, NC.