Monday, August 17, 2009


Ah, the winding road to the mountains, the smokey-blue overlooks, the trout at The Wine Garden, grouper with a sauce of lemon butter and capers at On the Verandah overlooking the Sequoyah, the temperatures of 60's/70's, the ice cream sundaes at Kilwin's, and, the best of all, Cyrano's, Cyrano's--the busiest, fastest two-hour signing I've had so far! Thanks to Clair, Arthur, and Stu for a fun-filled afternoon.

Readers were nose to nose, elbow to elbow, finding their favorite books. Some were picking up their new Pat Conroy. (180 were ordered and all pre-sold. Wow!) I was directing traffic at the front from my little signing nook. At one point I guided a woman to the coffee table books on birds by pointing to the man in the green shirt way in the back, Stu. Customers left carrying armloads of hard cover books, and many even found the space for my poetry books. Many thanks to those who did.

Conversation was the best: Mike from England for whom I sang C.M. Bellman verses; April,local resident from MA whose name called up Shakespeare ("Thou art thy mother's glass and she in thee calls back the lovely April of her prime");the Pollards and mother Rita all celebrating Rita's 90th birthday; Rod Rogers, the Civil War writer who followed me in signing (who knew my Charleston friends, Dennis Stiles, Susan Meyers, and Linda Ferguson); mom and daughter,an English teacher; a young man whose girlfriend was "edgy"; a woman who uses the Bible as a resource book as do I--so so many. I wish all the names had stayed with me as the faces have!

Too bad I forgot to take pics during the signing. Tommy and I returned just before five on Saturday and did snap a few, but you won't see the crowds I've described. They were all getting ready for dinner. I wanted to take a street shot to show the clever use of the front window to display books.

Easy to see that I've made one stop too many at Kilwin's. Ah, but who could resist?

Young internationals were working in the shops and restaurants. A Russian woman shared conversation about my Russian friend here, Polina. An Irish fellow served us one evening. He said the chef was German. I learned from April at Cyrano's that a large house in Highlands serves as a local residence for young folks who want to come there and work.

Because our old Savannah buds, Delores and Steve Wright, were not at their place in Cashiers for the weekend, we stayed at Highlands Inn, a homey place a stone's throw from Cyrano's. There we met Betty who was staying at the Inn through Labor Day before returning to Rock Hill, SC. We had great fun talking about our memories of Savannah where Tommy and I lived for two separate decades.

Monday, August 10, 2009

You are invited. . .

to a booksigning of my full length poetry book, THE SHORTEST DISTANCE. Saturday, August 15, 1-3, Cyrano's Book Store in Highlands, NC.


“…[her] poems are quietly earth-shaking—an oxymoron written like the moron I become when having read something that moves me, and Kathleen Thompson’s have reduced me to a quivering mass of admiration & greed for more.”
-Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird.

“Kathleen Thompson writes about the joys and sorrows, as well as the ordinary daily experiences in between, that make up our lives. She explores the wild in the domestic and the domestic in the wild. Like conch shells held to the ear, these poems let us hear the oceans they contain. The Shortest Distance is a true and moving book of poems made to last a long time.”
-Greg Pape, author of American Flamingo, Montana Poet Laureate

“Kathleen Thompson's The Shortest Distance presents a compelling, reflective, and compassionately crafted world-welding that brings near the ways in which the human heart is shaped by relationships and by the particularities of place.”
-Sue Walker, Alabama Poet Laureate, Stokes Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing, University of South Alabama

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What's in a Name?

Victoria, Cousin Nicholas, and Will

Announcing a new grandson: William Meron Thompson, born Thursday, July 30, 2009, at 3:03 p.m. 8 lbs. 4 oz. 21 1/2 " long!! Parents: Stephen and Tracy; big sis, Victoria, 6.

His first name is to honor the Williams family name of my daughter-in-law, Tracy. The second was after my father-in-law, Meron James Thompson, June 18, 1918-December 4, 2004. He was named after his maternal grandfather of Wayne County, MS, James Marion Thompson, Feb. 2, 1854-?

Well, I've found out just how many William's are in our family since this baby was named--my oldest brother, William Eura Smith, August 24, 1926-July 17, 1972, and at least four nephews! This son of Stephen and Tracy and little brother of Victoria is the newest.

The oldest ones I know about are:

a maternal Taylor grandpa, William J. (Billy) Taylor, born 1836 in Tuscaloosa County, died August 1904 in the Civil War, and buried in Richmond Virginia;
and a paternal uncle, son of Robert Smith, 1818-1840 (my great-grandpa), William C. Smith, 1846-1923. (Robert Smith also fought in the Civil War--Co. A 41st Infantry Reg.)

Here's a poem about naming that I wrote a long time ago. Note that I took poetic license here because the truth is sometimes harder to believe than fiction. Grandpa Newton Howard Taylor actually had two wives, Jennie, and then Ella. By those two wives he had 27 children. I think seventeen were Ella's.

In Memoriam: Tempie Savannah Taylor Smith
November 18, 1902 - September 28, 1966

Her name was Ella.
Ella Hasslentine Ella
Sanford Taylor.
I never saw her chop cotton
or cabbage for kraut.
I never heard her hum
the lyrics yellowing now
in her trunk for one
of their seventeen.

I never saw the bundling
board, or the dog trot,
but fireplace rocks still
stand there, outwitting time
like a marble monument
marking hours spent,
stirring syrup and stews
and nurturing new names.

She named you Savannah.
Had she felt the spiky
side of a sand dollar?
Had she ever chased
a bevy of sand pipers?
Did the breeze that bends
sea oats cause her to shiver
as she stoked the fire?

You never saw that place
she conjured up for you.
You named me Mary Kathleen,
youngest of twelve. My pew
in Savannah is marked with brass:
I sit next to your shiny name
and wonder what you dreamed
for me--what horizons, what sea?

Message in a Blog

  About twenty Birmingham language arts teachers endured my holding forth yesterday in my current gig as a Road Scholar ...