The Collected Poems (Sterling A. Brown) pdf, epub, doc

The Collected Poems ePub and PDF Available
Father Missouri, in his dotage
Whimsical and drunkenly turbulent,
Cuts away the banks, steals away the loam,
Washes the ground from under wire fences,
Leaves fenceposts grotesquely dangling in the air;
And with doddering steps approaches the shanties.

Reading Brown for his allegorization of the river in Southern Road as a sharecropper's landlord/creepy old man waiting to swallow the work of the African American communities on its banks, how they chart systems of property which make these communities most vulnerable to ecological catastrophe in lines that are both biting and empathetic and in a black vernacular that exists within heavy quotations / which Brown absorbed as essentially a folklorist (see the endlessly thorny issues around that—the production of 'authentic' voice, still considering). See, also, poems featuring the Missouri (the river that runs into St. Louis where T.S. Eliot's pop owned a brick factory) / relation to explosion of Katrina literature (the disaster always subordinated to 9-11 in nat'l consciousness) / relation to Douglas Kearney's work, his subversive sampling of stereotypical registers. The question of nostalgia hangs over my whole reading/consumption of and, as R Williams notes, any depiction of idealized vernacular landscape. That nostalgia has a double force for me given Brown was a D.C. poet, most likely influenced the poetics of one of my most important early teachers of poetry (Lucille Clifton), and is writing about a terrain which I'm nostalgic for—the river. Yet Brown's South is almost never idyllic—it exists within racist schemes of property (haunted by the plantation) that make existence precarious and which puts many of his figures on the run. What is celebrates is not place but the resourcefulness of his characters in struggling against it (the wearing repetition/galvanizing of the blues). Also seems reductive to see Brown as only "handling folk materials," his Southern road leads to the northern city, to which he devotes many poems. This is a weak reading of this rich poetry so far and unfortunately my work is either going to take me forward or backward in time from it.

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