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OtherTitles by Kwame Dawes Poetry: Progeny of Air Resisting the Anomie Prophets Requiem Jacko Jacobus Mapmaker Shook Foil Midland New and Selected Poems BruisedTotems Fiction: A Place to Hide and Other Stories Cultural and Literary Criticism: Natural Mysticism:Towards a New Reggae Aesthetic TalkYuhTalk:Interviews with Anglophone Caribbean Poets Bob Marley:Lyrical Genius Anthologies: Wheel and Come Again:An Anthology of Reggae Poems Twenty:South Carolina Poetry Fellows Plays: One Love Children’s Books: I SawYour Face Wisteria Twilight Poems from the Swamp Country # Kwame Dawes Red Hen Press Los Angeles Wisteria Copyright © 2006 by Kwame Dawes ALL RIGHTS RESERVED No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatever without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner. Cover art: From ATrue Likeness:The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts (Columbia, SC Bruccoli Clark Layman, 1986) Book design by MichaelVukadinovich Cover Design by Mark E. Cull ISBN: 1-59709-059-X Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2005933596 The City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts partially support Red Hen Press. First Edition for Lorna, Sena, Kekeli, and Akua for Gwyneth, Kojo,Aba,Adjoa and Kojovi for Mama the Great And remembering Neville Acknowledgements I thank Lana Odom, my guide to finding home in Sumter, South Carolina. She opened the way for me to meet the elders of Manning Avenue and the Southside. They told me their stories in the South Sumter Resource Center, sending me away every day with a fever to make poems, to tell their stories and to keep their voices alive. Thanks to these men and women—in their seventies and eighties who, ten years ago, taught me something about being southern and black: Mrs. Odom, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Richardson, Mrs. Sanders, Mrs. Tarlton, Mr. Ross, and Reverend Thrower. These poems are not transcriptions of their voices, but a rendering that comes through our shared language of the Middle Passage and the many journeys we have all taken. Thanks also to those who helped me to shape this manuscript—Holly Schullo, Ellen Arl and Charlene Spearen. Give thanks to Colin Channer and Justine Henzel—always reminding me of what we can do. Thanks especially to Kevin Simmonds for his beautiful musical rendering of so many of these poems and for helping me to see these poems in fresh ways. Thanks to the Columbia Museum of Art for hosting the first performance of Wisteria: Twilight Songs from the Swamp Country.Thanks to Chris Abani for making the big link. Special thanks to the kind and brilliant crew at the inimitable Red Hen Press.AndThanks to the Department of English at the University of South Carolina for allowing me the space and time to write—One love. Grateful acknowledgement to the following publications in which some of these poems have appeared in some form: Callaloo, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Poetry London, Obsidian III, Point, Doubletake Magazine, and The Lettered Olive. Several of these poems appeared in Midland (Ohio University Press, 2001) and in New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree, 2003). Wisteria has been set to music by Kevin Simmonds and performed live in several venues. Kwame Dawes Columbia,SC 2005 ...


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