Let poetry tell you a story during the month of April.
While some may find reading poetry intimidating, it’s a great way to quickly immerse yourself in a world of verse — almost like a super short story. These four recently published books by Southern poets do a wonderful job of storytelling in verse form, immersing the reader in mini worlds that will make you look at everybody objects in beautiful, and strange, new ways.
by Darnell Arnoult
“Reading Darnell Arnoult’s Galaxie Wagon is like riding in the passenger seat of some grand old American car, transfixed by the scenery, unconcerned with the destination, and so delighted even more by the beauty and strangeness of where you arrive,” says poet Jesse Graves. A native of Virginia, Arnoult’s previous collection of poems won the Poetry Book of the Year Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Published in March, Galaxie Wagon features poems about gorillas, planting phlox, old feet and love. Read poem “Her Real Name Was Peaches” here.
get up, please
by David Kirby
The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University, David Kirby examines our extraordinarily human condition through the lens of our ordinary daily lives. His keenly observant poems — many that read more like short stories — range from the streets of Port Arthur, Texas, and South Florida to India, Russia and Turkey. Whether remembering Zelda Fitzgerald’s group of boys known as “jelly beans” or ruminating on the mundane side of life via the imperfect sandwich, Kirby entertains us even as he makes us think and laugh.
Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit
by Susan Swartwout
Steeped in the Gothic elements of quotidian life in the Deep South, Southeast Missouri State English professor Susan Swartwout’s poems are a celebration of difference and the uncommon — odd beauties who embellish our plain lives. Her poems explore the lives of freaks — celebrities of Southern fairs’ sideshows — such as conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker’s married lives, the Fat Lady’s work schedule, Tom Thumb’s Barnum-warped ego, all parallel to the hidden desires, plots, and jealousies of the rest of us. From circus oddities to real-life boogeymen, from Louisiana to a Central American village, earth has no dearth of the Gothic’s strange fruit, illuminating the complexity of what it is to be human. Read our interview with Susan Swartwout here.
by James Davis May
The late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Claudia Emerson chose Unquiet Things as the second volume in her poetry series, a testament to the talent of James Davis May. Now living in the Georgia mountains, May’s poems in his debut collection unflinchingly test themselves against skepticism, violence and death in order to say something meaningful and lasting about human experience. Throughout this collection, May turns often to the landscapes of North Georgia, his native Pittsburgh and Eastern Europe, as well as to his literary models Czeslaw Milosz and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for guidance.
Visit our Poetry section to read a Southern poem a day through April 30, including poems from all four of these books coming up later in the month.