Kathryn Stripling Byer
|Kathryn Stripling Byer|
Byer Accepting an award from the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2012
November 25, 1944
|Died||June 5, 2017
Cullowhee, North Carolina
|Alma mater||Wesleyan College, B.A.
|Notable awards||North Carolina Poet Laureate|
Kathryn Stripling Byer (November 25, 1944 – June 5, 2017), also called Kay Byer, was an American poet and teacher. She was named by Governor Mike Easley as the fifth North Carolina Poet Laureate, 2005–2009 and was the first woman to hold the position.
Early life and education
Kathryn Stripling Byer was born in Camilla, Georgia in 1944. Her parents were farmer C. M. Stripling and his wife Bernice Campbell Stripling. Byer went on to graduate with a bachelors in English from Macon, Georgia's Wesleyan College and then received her M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. There she studied under Allen Tate, Fred Chappell, and Robert W. Watson. During this time at UNC-G, Byer decided to move to the mountains of North Carolina.
After receiving her M.F.A., Byer became poet-in-residence at Western Carolina University, 1988–98, as well as UNC-G in 1995 and Lenoir-Rhyne College in 1999. She has published six full collections of poetry as well as some chapbooks. Her most recent collection is Descent published in 2012 by Louisiana State University Press.
In 2005, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley appointed Byer to be the state's fifth poet laureate following Fred Chappell whose term ended in 2002. She was the first woman to hold the position. As part of her outreach program during her term as poet laureate, Byer maintained "My Laureate's Lasso", a blog that focused on North Carolina poets and poetry. She was also the judge for the North Carolina Poetry Society's Poet Laureate Award.
Byer died at the age of 72 on June 5, 2017 from lymphoma.
Some of Byer's poetry appeared in Arts Journal, The Carolina Quarterly, The Georgia Review, The Hudson Review, The Iowa Review, Nimrod, Poetry, "North Carolina Literary Review", and The Southern Review. Her work often dealt with lives and hardships of western North Carolina mountain inhabitants, especially women, in earlier generations.
- The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest (1986), Associated Writing Programs award series
- Wildwood Flower (1992)
- Black Shawl (1998)
- Catching Light (Louisiana State University Press, 2002)
- Wake (chapbook, 2003)
- Coming to Rest (Louisiana State University Press, 2006)
- The Movable Nest: A Mother/Daughter Companion as co-editor with Kallet, Marilyn (Helicon Nine Editions, 2007)
- Southern Fictions (sonnet chapbook; Jacar Press, 2011)
- Descent (Louisiana State University Press, 2012)
Some of Byer's most notable essays include:
- "Turning the Windlass at the Well: Fred Chappell's Early Poetry" in Dream Garden: The Poetic Vision of Fred Chappell (1997)
- "Deep Water" in Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers (1998)
Awards and honors
- 1992 – Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets
- 1998 – Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry
- 2001 – Emory and Henry College's Kathryn Stripling Byer Literary Festival
- 2001 – North Carolina Award in Literature
- 2003 – SIBA Book Award in Poetry for Catching Light
- 2005–2009 – North Carolina Poet Laureate 
- 2012 – inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame
- 2013 – SIBA Book Award in Poetry for Descent
- Prestridge, Sam. "Kathryn Stripling Byer (b. 1944)". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
- "Raleigh ceremony to celebrate Byer's selection as poet laureate". The Sylva Herald and Ruralite. June 9, 2005. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
- "Kathryn Stripling Byer". Poets.org. Academy of American Poets. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
- Eubanks, Georgann (2007). Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-8078-5833-2.
- Vitiello, Chris (October 31, 2012). "Kay Byer, the N.C. Literary Hall of Fame and this weekend's N.C. Writers' Network conference". Independent Weekly. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- "Past North Carolina Poets Laureate". North Carolina Arts Council. Archived from the original on October 27, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- "My Laureate's Lasso". Kathryn Stripling Byer. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- "Annual Adult Poetry Contest Judges". North Carolina Poetry Society. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "Adult Contests and Awards". North Carolina Poetry Society. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- "North Carolina Book Awards". North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- "Literature". North Carolina Award recipients. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- "Past North Carolina Poet Laureates". North Carolina Arts Council.
- "North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame Induction Set for October 14". North Carolina Writers' Network. July 12, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- "North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame 2012 Induction Program". University Library University of North Carolina. October 14, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2014.