Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Movin' On by Nancy Dillingham

Poet Nancy Dillingham is a sixth-generation Dillingham from Big Ivy in western North Carolina.  She lives in Asheville.

Moving On
by Nancy Dillingham 

We sat in the back seat
of the old black car
parked behind the smokehouse
smelling of cigarettes and shaving lotion

We drank Kool-Aid
and ate bologna sandwiches
on Bunny Bread

Sun spilling in our laps
lulling us to half-sleep
we imagined Daddy
tuning the radio

Sunday morning traveling to church
we heard the squishing and twisting of sound
until he found WWNC
The Chuck Wagon Gang sang
"Precious Memories" in close harmony
their words tumbling out of the dashboard
Daddy humming or singing along

Saturday nights he'd tune to WSM
listen to the Grand Ole Opry
while we rode down to the store
for Push-Ups and Nehi's

Let's Hank Snow, he said
when we'd get back home
meaning time to go to bed
and we'd go to sleep
the nasal sound of
I'm moving on, I'll soon be gone
echoing in our heads

It's always exciting conceiving a new book.  With each of mine, I like to plan from the whole to the specific parts.  By that, I mean I usually get inspired (thank goodness!) by an old black and white family photograph.  A theme for the book usually follows or comes simultaneously.

From the photograph, I begin planning the look of the cover and the title.  THis process can go on for months as I put my thoughts down in a notebook.  I look for quotes that I might use for an epigram and do any research that might come in handy.

For this current book in progress, I took my point of departure from an old black and white photograph I have had on my wall for many years.  Taken in 1950, it is a picture of two of my sisters and me--three ragtag little girls standing in those quaint dresses of the era in front of the grill of an old car (or truck), all chrome and old tag showing.  I've tried to find out the exact model--no success yet.

Then I thought of the song "Moving On," written in 1950 and sang by Hank Snow, the "Singing Ranger," who performed often on the Grand Ole Opry.  I put the words to the song down in my notebook.  Then, of course, I began to think of other songs we used to listen to with Daddy--he loved country music and old gospel songs.

I had just read Eudora Welty's  One Writer's Beginnings and was struck by and identified with these lines:  "I am a writer who came from a sheltered life.  A sheltered life can be a daring life as well.  For all serious daring starts from within."  I jotted these lines in my notebook also--a possible epigram for the book.

Then I saw a course listed for UNCA's Great Smokies Writing Program with poet Katherine Soniat entitled "Dreams, Memories, and Photographs" beginning in September.  I have signed up for the course.  I know that the writing courses that I often take always stimulate my creativity and aid in writing my books.

I now have the concept (and the title poem--see above) for a new book of poems.  I have the daunting but exhilarating task of following the process to fruition--to a new book of poetry.


Vicki Lane said...

Old photos can be great inspirations!
Your poem is lovely, Nancy.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Nancy - I am a huge fan of your work and am so pleased that you agreed to share some of it with us. thank you!!