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2 N.C. poets keep life ‘low and plain'

SLANTWISE

By Betty Adcock. LSU. 83 pages. $16.95 paper.

ELEPHANTS AND BUTTERFLIES

By Alan Michael Parker. BOA Editions. 94 pages. $16 paper.

Two big-gun poets are out with books this summer: A sixth collection for Betty Adcock, who teaches in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and a fifth for Alan Michael Parker, director of creative writing at Davidson and a faculty member of the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte.

Emerson tells us the “poet's habit of living should be set on a key so low and plain that the common influences should delight him.”

I asked both Adcock and Parker how they manage to keep life “low and plain.”

“Poems can't flourish in hurry and noise,” says Adcock, whose most recent collection includes, “Poem to a Friend Explaining Why I Did Not / Attend the Convention of Professional Poets.”

Adcock tells me that she is not connected to the Internet and would “rather write a long letter than answer multiple e-mails, would rather look in books for information than be over-informed by Google.”

Further, she says, she belongs to few organizations and is active in none.

“I rarely attend conventions of writers or conferences. I do not e-mail,” she says.

As for Parker, “I am a poet who works out of pleasure rather than pain.”

What's more, he says, “for invention to percolate in me, I need a clear mind and a quiet room. I've learned that as the events of my life become more deliberate, the work seems to become more adventurous.”

Parkers shares this maxim with his students: “Quit one activity each year, something you do (perhaps even well) that matters not as much.”

Adcock adds that she likes to cook, to read deeply (not on a screen) and “to be still in my backyard.”

And she points out that Emerson is male and uses the male pronoun in referring to “the poet.”

But that, she says, is another conversation.

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