A Good Book Now!
How to Decide
How to Buy
An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poets
Don't Try and Sell Me No Pink Flamingos:
From the forward by
Naturally I would a whole lot rather be back there among the pages of this book, paid up and in good standing, instead of up here in the front talking about it.
That, my friends, is the truth but it is also (even though phonetics are not indicated by spelling) a genuine trashy sentence. Not tacky, mind you. There is a big difference. Some southern writers would rather die slowly and badly than admit to a touch of trash. They will go to great lengths to deny there's any such (of a) thing as a Cracker in their gene pool or a Redneck in the woodpile. But the truth is every southerner has a streak of trash just as every selfsame southerner has a drop (just a tad) of Plantagenet blood. Some have the strength of character and well-developed mixed feelings (what the editors fairly enough call "irony") to admit it and even enjoy it. Those who don't are just tacky, no matter how elegant and refined and aesthetic they may seem to outsiders--Yankees and such. There are some celebrated southern public stances which are, really, the literary equivalent of planting pink flamingos in the front yard. Point is, all southerners equally have deep roots and plenty of ancestors. Mostly we are kin to each other. And we have always had mixed feelings about that and the South. People, including a lot of tacky southerners, keep telling us that the southern literary "renaissance" is all over and done with, long gone. Read the poets here, good poets and true ( and praise be, more various in voice than any anthology I've seen for a good long while), and you'll agree that the negative critics, the doubters and scoffers, are as wrong as wrong can be. I am familiar with the work of some of these poets . Some are old friends and friends of friends, and several are, I'm pleased to say, former students. Others like the talented student writers, Timothy Hamm and Doris Hardie, are new to me. These are all worthy folks. Of course there's a gracious plenty of other eligible southern poets, of all ages and stages, who are not here and are every bit as good as anybody who is. That is always the way it is and has to be. But in this case you can honestly say they are well served and represented by what is here. (That is not always or even often the case with anthologies.) What's here is good enough for anybody. I feel like having some bumper stickers printed up--HONK IF YOU LOVE FRED CHAPPELL, BLINK YOUR LIGHTS IF YOU BELIEVE IN COLEMAN BARKS; CAUTION I BRAKE FOR ARMADILLOS AND JOHN CARR. And so on. Or maybe to stand up at some session of literary Holy Rollers and holler: "Everybody who loves poetry say after me--James Seay and Kelly Cherry and Rosemary Daniell!" All the poets, and the editors, are to be thanked and congratulated.
As a Southerner my (own) self, now living in Maine, I'm very happy to have this book to pass around to my friends up here. The climate is a lot different and so is the accent, but the people who live here are a lot like us. Also for other kinds of Americans, from the high-priced spread of the Northeast, from the Middlewest and West, all those who may be trying to solve the mystery of our next President from Plains, Georgia, these poems will tell you all as much as you need and deserve to know. I imagine Jimmy would be in the book, too, if he know how to write poems. Matter of fact, just in case (it's been known to happen) he moves into the White House and starts to get the Big-head and forget his real roots, he'd be well advised to keep a copy of this book handy. And so would you and I.