Southern Messenger Poets

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

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Southern Messenger Poets

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Blacksnake at the Family Reunion

Poems

David Huddle

David Huddle's latest collection, Blacksnake at the Family Reunion, shares intimate and amusing stories as if told by a quirky, usually reticent, great uncle. In "Boy Story," a teenage romantic meeting ends abruptly when the boy's sweetheart realizes they have parked near her grandmother's grave. The poem "Aloft" recalls a widowed mother's indignation after she receives a marriage proposal in a hot air balloon. Haunted by the words on his older sister's tombstone -- "born & died... then / a single date / in November" -- the speaker in one poem struggles to understand a tragic loss: "The ampersand / tells the whole truth / and nothing but, / so help me God, / whose divine shrug / is expressed so / eloquently / by that grave mark."

Blacksnake at the Family Reunion continues Huddle's poetic inquiry into the power of early childhood and family to infuse adulthood with sadness and despair -- an inquiry conducted with profound empathy for the fragility of humankind.

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The Cabinetmaker's Window

Poems

Steve Scafidi

"Dying never / ends for us. It only slowly rearranges us," writes Steve Scafidi in his poignant new collection. Inspired by his own work as a cabinetmaker -- defined by the peppery dust from the woodworker planing a walnut board, turning an oak spindle at the lathe, or honing chisels while gazing out a window -- Scafidi's poems reveal both the tenuous and the everlasting nature of existence.

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Captive Voices

New and Selected Poems, 1960-2008

Eleanor Ross Taylor. foreword by Ellen Bryant Voigt

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Dream Sender

Poems

David Huddle

"“Huddle is a source of light in an often gray world.”—Booklist

“[Huddle’s poetry is] luminous and majestic.”— Philip Deaver, The Southern Review

An account of spiritual survival through the practice of literary art, the poems in David Huddle’s eighth collection, Dream Sender, move among a variety of poetic forms and voices. Here, a bear wonders why he could not have been a raccoon, a bird, or a meadow; and a five-year-old thrills to the forbidden taste of whiskey as he eavesdrops on his parents’ after-dinner conversation. By turns outrageous and pragmatic, Huddle’s poems acknowledge the powerful and disturbing currents of the contemporary world as they also explore the comfort and familiarity we find there.

Huddle’s poems illuminate the nature of relationships between family, friends, and even animals, celebrating their shortcomings, embarrassments, and eccentricities. At once frank and compassionate, Dream Sender finds both humor and poignancy in human imperfections.

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Ephemeron

Poems

T. R. Hummer

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Figure Studies

Poems

Claudia Emerson

Poet Claudia Emerson begins Figure Studies with a twenty-five-poem lyric sequence called "All Girls School," offering intricate views of a richly imagined boarding school for girls. Whether focused on a lesson, a teacher, or the girls themselves as they collectively "school" -- or refuse to -- the poems explore ways girls are "trained" in the broadest sense of the word.

"Gossips," the second section, is a shorter sequence narrated by women as they talk about other women in a variety of isolations; these poems, told from the outside looking in, highlight a speculative voicing of all the gossips cannot know. In "Early Lessons," the third section, children narrate as they also observe similarly solitary women, the children's innocence allowing them to see in farther than the gossips can. The fourth section offers studies of women and men in situations in which gender, with all of its complexities, figures powerfully.

The follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Late Wife, Figure Studies upholds Emerson's place among contemporary poetry's elite.

The Mannequin above Main Street Motors

When the only ladies' dress shop closed, she was left on the street for trash, unsalvageable,

one arm missing, lost at the shoulder, one leg at the hip. But she was wearing a blue-sequined negligee

and blonde wig, so they helped themselves to her on a lark -- drunken impulse -- and for years kept her

leaning in a corner, beside an attic window, rendered invisible. The dusk

was also perpetual in the garage below,punctuated only by bare bulbs hung close

over the engines. An oily grime coated the walls, and a decade of calendars promoted

stock-car drivers, women in dated swimsuits, even their bodies out of fashion. Radio distorted

there; cigarette smoke moaned, the pedal steel conceding to that place a greater, echoing

sorrow. So, lame, forgotten prank, she remained,back turned forever to the dark storage

behind her, gaze leveled just above anyone's who could have looked up

to mistake in the cast of her face fresh longing -- her expression still reluctant figure for it.

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The Ha-ha

Poems

David Kirby

A feature of English landscape architecture, a ha-ha is a wall at the bottom of a ditch; its purpose is to allow the presence of cows and sheep on one's lawn, but at an agreeable distance and with none of the malodorous unsightliness that proximity would bring. Similarly, The Ha-Ha, the latest offering from poet David Kirby, is both an exploration of the ways in which the mind invites chaos yet keeps it at a distance and an apologia for humor, reflecting Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh's observation that tragedy is merely underdeveloped comedy. Embracing wit, wide-ranging scholarship, and an equal love of travel as well as the pleasures of home, The Ha-Ha depicts comedy as a radical form of intelligence, a way of thinking that just happens to be noisy and rumbustious.

We are staying with Barbara's parents on Oahu, and the first night we're there, I notice an angry-looking man is staring at me

out of the neighbor's upstairs window and mumbling something, but the second night I realize that it's that poster of Bo Diddley

from the famous Port Arthur concert, and there's a phone wirein front of his face that bobs up and down when the trade winds blow,

which they do constantly, making it seem as though Mr. Diddley is saying something to me.

From "The Ha-Ha, Part I: The Tao of Bo Diddley" published in The Ha-Ha: Poems by David Kirby. Copyright � 2003 by David Kirby. All rights reserved.

- See more at: http://lsupress.org/books/detail/the-ha-ha/#sthash.g8vUSeuN.dpuf

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The House of Blue Light

Poems

David Kirby

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The House on Boulevard St.

New and Selected Poems

David Kirby

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Impossible Bottle

Poems

Claudia Emerson

Claudia Emerson published six poetry collections with LSU Press, including Late Wife, Secure the Shadow, and The Opposite House. A professor of English and member of the creative writing faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Emerson served as the poet laureate of Virginia and won numerous awards for teaching and writing—including the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry—before her death in 2014.

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