His 32-Year Affair with Poetry

   Jerry H. Cuthrell is an artist who enjoys writing poetry with a bold, architectural, pencil print, recording impressions gained from observations while driving in his work. He carefully numbers each pencil written page in the upper right corner and places them in a large three-ring binder. His works linger in that binder, only to see light again when he reads at Pamlico Writers Groupmeetings. This column’s mission is to expose literary works that writers like Jerry have secreted in their filing cabinets.

Jerry speaks fondly of his childhood in World War II Belhaven, an eastern Beaufort County fishing village. Jerry remembers a child-friendly, Huckleberry Finn-likeplace where boyish antics were the norm. Some of his poems reflect those times and remember people lost in that era.

Lees-McRae College and N.C. State University were stops in his education before entering the U.S. Navy in 1950. As a fleet marine hospital x-ray technician, Jerry was stationed at Portsmouth Naval Hospital and Camp Geiger (Camp Lejeune) during the Korean War.

Jerry chose not to follow his military training when he entered the University of North Carolina to major in English. He served on the editorial board of The Carolina Quarterly and as a staff reporter on the school newspaper, The Daily Tarheel. For his junior year in college, Jerry transferred to Washington State University in Pullman, Washington where he earned a BS in agricultural economics.

This man with medical training, a partial English major, and a degree in agricultural economics married his high school sweetheart, Connie Midyette, and entered a business career in the metal building construction industry. His early assignments required moving to: Spokane, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Walla Walla, Washington; Richmond, Virginia; and Columbus, Georgia. In 1972, he returned to Beaufort County to start his general construction business, a love he follows today.

Jerry is a founding member of The Pamlico Writers Group, circa 1978, when he became the first and only Chairperson of the group. Although he has been a member of other writers groups (NC Writers Network and The NC Poetry Society), Jerry has concentrated efforts in the PWG where member writers have published works and moved on to more professional pursuits. Jerry was instrumental in guiding the PWG publication of two anthologies of member works: Showboat in 2000, and Showboat IIin 2002.

   Organic Gardening Magazine purchased Jerry’s poem, “Window Over the Sink,” however it was never published. Other poems have been published in The Depot Dispatch, Washington and Beaufort County Magazine, Coastal Plains Poetry, Mount Olive Review, and in Showboat and Showboat II.

When asked why he hasn’t published a book of poetry, Jerry in his characteristic southern drawl explains, “Well, I just couldn’t find any way to group my poems into a book. Besides, most of them are not yet finished.”

Jerry is expressing the same feeling as French poet Paul Varley, who said, “A poem is never really finished, it’s abandoned.” Of course, that’s true for most writers’ works. Another edit will always make it better!

You may see some of Jerry’s poems at the Pamlico Writers Group website at http://www.pamlicowritersgroup.org.

Poems by Jerry Cuthrell:

“Window Over the Sink”

Beneath the scaly barked
Flowering crab
Whose gaunt arms
Hang low
And bolt about
Like random lightning
Pansy number one
Has made it up
Through the winter straw

At the rear of the yard
The land
Becomes swamp
And drops away
To the creek
The somber trees stand
Stripped and bleak
And barred with yellow
By the rising sun
Beyond my wife’s
Still sleeping garden

By the rail fence
On Trueblood’s side
A pair of silly plums
Grossly ignorant
Of mid March ways
Have burst
Into wildest bloom


crepe myrtles
so teased
by a sudden
summer shower
dropped their blooms
in a purple puddle
by the roadside.

And there I was again
thinking of skittish Florence
who shed her lavender
on the front porch once
in haste
because the neighbor boy
surprised her
with a small green frog
lost in cleavage
too deep
from which to spring.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s