Raleigh Rambles

John Dancy-Jones at large!

Sally Buckner, A Writer’s Writer That Championed North Carolina

Sally Buckner, 1931-2018

The first time I met Sally Buckner was through Sam Ragan, and she came to seem, in my eyes, as important a North Carolina literary figure as that wonderful man. I was in tenth grade, and my mother, dying of brain cancer and desperate to do something for her lost creative son, talked Mr. Ragan into letting me into an evening writing seminar he was conducting at the Hill Library at State College. All the other students were college age or older, but everyone was very kind to me and I learned a lot. Sally was one of the students, but I put that together in retrospect after many years.

Sally taught a writing class to M.Ed students at NCSU in the 90’s and her class was one of my last in getting my degree in Special Education. Her approach to this course was perfect for me and I was re-invigorated, newly aware of the possibilities for creative non-fiction, and moved by the memoirs she had stimulated me to write. It was clear to me she was a great teacher, and as we got to know each other I discovered our only previous meeting, in spite of close brushes through the years. I also came to know and greatly respect her own writings, as well as all she had done to promote North Carolina literary culture.

Sally was a very good writer, and I believe she was a great teacher of writing. These skills culminated in my favorite work of her, Our Words, Our Ways, a teaching anthology of NC writing through history. She taught in many venues at all age levels, but her 28 year career at Peace College took her into retirement. When she retired, I printed the poem below for her retirement dinner. As shown on her Facebook page and elsewhere, she was beloved and will be greatly missed.

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Sally Buckner papers at UNC

Losing My Father, a poem by Sally Buckner

 

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January 8, 2018 Posted by | literary, Raleigh history, reflection | , | 1 Comment

Lt. Walsh Anniversary Celebration Reaches 25 Years

decorated grave

A group of mostly old friends gathered yet again to honor the memory of Lt. Walsh, whose grave in Oakwood Cemetery marks a unique aspect of Raleigh’s history. Raleigh’s near destruction by and survival of Sherman’s march, Spring’s eternal hope, and pure Southern spirit are all embodied in this private ceremony, celebrated for 25 years this one. The anniversary of Lt Walsh’s hanging by federal troops after his potshots at them while entering Raleigh reaches its 150th year in 2015.  hope to see you there! It is always worthwhile. Thank you, Karl.

Karl decorates grave

Karl decorates the grave

Chloey reads the story of Lt Walsh

Chloe reads the story of Lt Walsh

 Links

Goodnight Raleigh’s post on Lt Walsh

Another fascinating Civil War Raleigh item from Goodnight Raleigh

Interesting link via Jim Dean

News & Observer Lt Walsh story (Josh Shaffer)

Ernest Dollar’s story about Walsh on Raleigh Public Record

Raleigh Rambles posts on Lt Walsh:

 Lt Walsh and the pseudo-mystery (2008)

Lt Walsh celebration reaches 20 years (2009)

 

April 13, 2014 Posted by | Raleigh history | | 2 Comments

Denis Wood Maps Across the World, Starting with Boylan Heights

Denis Wood is an old friend who played an important role in nurturing The Paper Plant into existence in the early 1980s.  He was an engaging and innovative professor during that tenure of his life, and now has turned his intellectual charms to the theory or philosophy of cartography, writing numerous books and just completing a lecture tour in Germany.  His most recent publication, Everything Sings, is a book of radically different maps, illustrating his unique take on what a map can be and how it effects us.  It is also a wonderfully quirky portrait of Boylan Heights, and the book’s success shows how interesting and important Denis’ work is, as well as how hot Raleigh is, and how treasured is that neighborhood in its history.  The book cover, seen above, displays the location and carving pattern of Boylan Heights pumpkins on a Halloween.  Pecan tree locations, utility services, and lot sizes all became subjects of innovative maps created by graduate students under Wood’s tutelage.

Denis spoke and presented this fall at the Boylan Ave Brewery to celebrate the publication of the book.  It was well attended and Denis entertained quite well with the amazing story of how his book came to be – an interview for background information with Ira Glass for an NPR story on maps, his casual mention of a long term project with NCSU design students, and the subsequent segment of This American Life which brought the project to the attention of book publishers. The actual production of Everything Sings involved many winding turns, but now that it’s finally out, it is not only selling well, but been nominated for  the University of Iowa’s The Essay Prize.

Denis is such a creative thinker and enthusiastic cultural worker.  His talk presented small samples of the ideas in his major books – that maps represent not just a set of places but a representation of the way we think about places, if at all.  Maps can take many forms, and the formats of our maps shape the way we think about the world. Maps can enhance, shift or corrupt our view of the world.   We can also enlarge our sense of the world through creative use and creation of maps, and that is at the core of Denis Wood’s work.

The book that helped promote and elucidate these concepts on the national scene is The Power of Maps, his 1992 book, co-authored with John Fels, that helped literally turn everyone’s concpetions of maps upside down.  Last year, they published the title pictured above, which updates and enlarges their approach.

Denis is continually sharing his ideas.  His recent presentation at a conference called Mapping Maps: What’s New About Neocartography, in Seigen Germany, was part of a media studies program, and involved people working at what seems to this layman to be right at the edge of cartography: Geo-annotation, The Rise of Aerial Photogrammetry, Performative Cartography, Playful Cartography, and explorations of web resources such as OpenStreetMap.   Denis was the main evening speaker and presented his critique entitled The Challenge to Neocartography Posed by Guy Debord and Kevin Lynch His workshops in Frankfort shared his ideas on the nature of maps with graduate students, and in Liepzig he presented to traditional geographers about  “A Place Off the Map: The Case for a Non-Map-based Place Title.”

All this was and is very interesting but I must confess my favorite stories from Germany were about the European flavors and customs, along with some delicious gossip about European academic politics.  Denis provokes you to consider new ideas, but he doesn’t press them – mainly because he’s quickly on to some other new ideas – plus the ones you’ve made him think of during the conversation!   He is a treasure, he is doing great stuff, and I hope you keep an eye out for him.

Denis Wood signs his new book at the Boylan Ave Brewpub

Siglio Press on Everything Sings:

Denis Wood has created an atlas unlike any other. Surveying Boylan Heights, his small neighborhood in North Carolina, he subverts the traditional notions of mapmaking to discover new ways of seeing both this place in particular and the nature of place itself. Each map attunes the eye to the invisible, the overlooked, and the seemingly insignificant. From radio waves permeating the air to the location of Halloween pumpkins on porches, Wood searches for the revelatory details in what has never been mapped or may not even be mappable. In his pursuit of a “poetics of cartography,” the experience of place is primary, useless knowledge is exalted, and representation strives toward resonance. Our perception of maps and how to read them changes as we regard their beauty, marvel at their poetry, and begin to see the neighborhoods we live in anew. Everything Sings weaves a multi-layered story about one neighborhood as well as about the endeavor of truly knowing the places which we call home.

 That a cartographer could set out on a mission that’s so emotional, so personal, so idiosyncratic, was news to me.   IRA GLASS, host of This American Life, from his introduction to Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas


Ira Glass interview with Denis Wood about Everything Sings:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/110/mapping

Denis Wood website:

http://www.deniswood.net/home.htm

This book is featured on Places, the online journal of architecture, landscape and urbanism 

http://places.designobserver.com/feature/everything-sings-maps-for-a-narrative-atlas/30358/

March 14, 2011 Posted by | art, Raleigh downtown, Raleigh history, reflection | , , , , | Leave a comment

Petrblt – Peter Eichenberger holds forth no more

Scientia aurea — Knowledge is Golden

Peter Eichenberger died Thanksgiving morning and proved well his enduring unique qualities with the breadth and nature of his mourning. Just one of those qualities was: if you were ready for it, Peter was down with it, and so he made many many friends.  They have mourned  the loss of his excellent company and all he might have said, but celebrated a life lived full speed and damn the torpedoes, smelling the roses and leaving no stone unturned along the way. Teasing and sarcasm was our way, as with many, and he would hate those cliches, but he was a man worthy hyberbole, since his life consisted of it.

I feel very lucky to have explored Cameron Park’s myriad of alleyways on bike with him this summer, and glad that I shared so many drinks at Sad’s with him, and I hate like the dickens I never got him together with my dad, whose stories of Depression downtown Raleigh and Southern Railroad energized him any time I touched on them.  He could ably discurse on innumerable subjects, and he taught me much.  He reminded me that Willie York had ditched and piped Pigeon House Branch to build the first shopping center in the Southeast when I was writing about that troubled creek, and he explained to me that the “geodesic” dome I liked so much at the Fairgrounds was actually made of hexagons (instead of pentagrams like Bucky’s).  He could write in the Downtowner of dog history and at Metro of Raleigh history and in the Indy of technological history, but I loved to hear him talk of cultural history and the local media history he had lived with all these years.  He was a writer, Raleigh’s own Gonzo, but he was rooted in the Earth by what he could do with his hands, which was just about anything if he wanted to.

What he wanted was for the world to be right and what he knew was that the world is very very screwed up.  He was right, and when those dark spectres bothered him he would share about the Mayan prophecies or the bombed levees or some other conspiratorial tale that bothered some but seemed clearly to be metaphors: the world is very very screwed up.

Peter also gathered the best kind of vibes and lived in the harmony of many positive energies.  Thus was he beloved and is honored by so many in the words that have flowed since his passing.  He leaves behind many words of his own, but scattered over the town of Raleigh (and the world wide web) like raucous crows, singing a noisy chant of art, art for life, art against the controlling state and the corporate fascists, art for love.  Peter love Peter.

Here are some of the many links for the outpouring online for Peter and links for his own writing:

Peter’s  wonderful narrative in the Indy post accident

 The Second Battle of New Orleans: notes of a bike repair warrior

remembrance by Indy’s Shirlette Ammons

Peter’s article archive at The Indy

Peter’s articles at Metro magazine

posts by Peter at Goodnight Raleigh

Peter’s articles at New Raleigh

New Raleigh’s obit post

Mark Kuykendall’s remembrance at New Raleigh

New Raleigh’s Memorial post w pics and words from many

Raleigh Public Record obit

NandO news article about Peter’s death

NandO obit

LiveRaleigh.com obit

Peter’s Facebook page, with many many wonderful comments

Peter’s blog, Peterblt

December 6, 2010 Posted by | architecture, literary, Raleigh history | , | 1 Comment

MUSA – “making” in the US today

[Matt's+bird+wall+in+evening_1_1.jpg]
Matt’s bird installation at entrance to MUSA show

The MUSA show at Cozart’s Antiques in west downtown Raleigh (just closed October 18th) was varied, intriguing and successful in presenting artistic takes on the issues behind the show’s concept – work and making things in the post-industrial age.  The show was held in a back  space which formerly housed a furniture factory.  I have formerly described my personal connections to the space and its employees.  I went opening night and then back for more pictures.  There were a scattering of very interesting installations within this large show, and these were what I focused on.

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One striking installation had some very cool craft history associated with it.  Jon Barlow Hudson’s  “Felt Hat Body” also offered a chapbook called “The Handmade Felt Hat.” I picked one up and found it, as a papermaker, a wonderful history of the craft and the culture surrounding it.  There was also a beautiful accordion book by Kathleen Loeven on display, seen below.

The show was incorporated into its space in a unique way.  Many trappings of the former furniture works were still in place – from commercial tin decoration samples to the old paint shop.  One of the installations used spray paint and objects to evoke the history of the place’s paints. The large back room featured a working silk screen process as well as the installation of “Invisible,” the music group that played at the opening and other project events.  Below, an Invisible member sets the pegs on the player piano wheel that provided some of the random sounds.

The artwork was extremely variable in style and quality.  My favorite piece by far was a large contraption that hung clay “icicles” over a pan of water.  As visitors pushed the lever that lowered them into the water, the blobs of clay were soaked and softened.  Gradually they would slip off their strings and fall into the water creating an evolving pattern in the water.  Below is a picture I snapped just after a young woman had been splashed by a sudden plop.

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Another very fun piece was the shrine to highway US 1  by Dave Alsobrooks that was installed in a small side room.  There was a church pew, a slide show of the artist’s road trip (whose imagery was “desaturated” for effect), and -best of all- a US1 bumper sticker which I have proudly displayed on my car!  I liked the artist’s attempt to “find beauty in the mundane” and really like his description of the piece recording “the constant plodding of our human race towards an unknown future…”

Highway US 1 shrine

Highway US 1 shrine

The show was a lot of fun and thought-provoking as well.  The gritty, down-n-dirty atmosphere provided an excellent setting for much of the art work.  Carter Hubbard and Sarah Botwick are to be commended for finding a way to enlarge the possibilities for art events in downtown Raleigh.

art house at the MUSA show

art house at the MUSA show

photo album of MUSA show

October 24, 2009 Posted by | art, Raleigh downtown, Raleigh history | , | Leave a comment