and Pembroke Magazine No. 33 Part of Professor Stephenson's Busy Summer
a warm Monday morning this summer, Shelby Stephenson is in his office
writing a poem about air conditioning, which is not working in the Dial
Building at UNC Pembroke.
Stephenson, a member
of the English Department since 1978, is teaching this summer and staying
busy with several projects.
"I write best
when I'm busy. It's a habit with me," Stephenson explains. "I
write a little something every day. Most of it I throw away."
Two of Professor
Stephenson's creations were published this summer, including Pembroke
Magazine No. 33. It is Stephenson's 23rd edition as editor of the revered
No. 33 features
Lee Smith, a North Carolina writer with 10 books to her credit.
Also published this
summer is Stephenson's book-length poem, "Fiddledeedee" (The
Bunny and Crocodile Press; Washington DC; 2001; 76 pages). It is a reminiscence
of the meaning of home.
Years ago at the
beginning of his writing career, Stephenson's work was described by
his friend and fellow North Carolina poet A.R. Ammons as "gutsy
North Carolina poems."
Nothing has changed
except Stephenson has added a few gray hairs and his singing has improved.
His poetry, which is deeply rooted in the sandy coastal plains soil
of North Carolina, is as strong as ever.
This sample is from
I am leaving to seek new fortunes
in the fortuitous faddle with feeling
fiddling sweet strains seeking you seeking me,
looking back darling,
to see if you are
looking back to see, calling my name,
the old perceptions laid low, gone over the years
to the shallows,
the depth-finders, all the way
to the homing ruin of runs rampant
in the boxscores, the old families dying out
"I still don't
know what poetry is, but neither does anybody else," Stephenson
said. "Nobody has a monopoly on it."
Before his death
in February, his friend Ammons wrote of the poem: "I am very moved
by 'Fiddledeedee,' by the accumulating strength of its forward movement
as well as by telling details, of the natural and spiritual world."
"Fiddledeedee" is the 8th volume of poetry Prof. Stephenson
has published. His 23rd Pembroke Magazine is dedicated to Ammons.
journal is dedicated to writers new and established. It is dedicated
to the art of writing in all forms.
"It is a labor
of love," Stephenson has often said. "Journals like this are
where writers first publish, so there is a special place in the world
for these little magazines."
is not so little at 376 pages although Stephenson put it on a diet after
the 449-page No. 32. The journal is also a marvel of longevity.
"I read somewhere
that the average life of a literary journal is seven years," he
to UNCP in 1978 and assumed the role of editor shortle thereafter. His
long-time managing editor Fran Oxendine retired form the English Department
central to this project," he said. "It's a little magazine
that takes a lot of work."
The magazine is
also a source of great pride for both the university and its editor.
Stephenson thumbs through No. 33 searching out gems.
a good piece in here by Lumberton poet Julia Wilkerson Burns,"
he notes. "John Judson has a wonderful story entitled "The
UNCP writers are
also well represented, including English professors Richard Vela, Jesse
Peters, Nancy Barrineau, Grace Gibson and Stephenson. Already in the
works, No. 34 will feature Lumberton born novelist Jill McCorkle.
or to obtain a copy of Pembroke Magazine, call 910.521.6358 or visit
a copy of "Fiddledeedee," orders may be sent to P.O. Box 1223;
Benson, N.C. 27504.
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