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Cottonlandia (Juniper Prize for Poetry) Paperback – June 8, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Juniper Prize for Poetry
  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press (June 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155849491X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558494916
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,638,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


It is rare to encounter a first collection that possesses the confidence and breadth of Rebecca Black's Cottonlandia. Black displays an elegant lyric concision and above all an abiding historical awareness, one refreshingly untainted by sensationalism or breezy ironies. Her reckonings, her 'sweet transmigrations,' manage to be personal and communal at once; this is the work of a poet of unusual promise.

(David Wojahn)

With her debut, Rebecca Black's work strides among us, all confidence and grace. Whether considering family history or the history of the cotton gin, Cottonlandia stuns with poems that invent, inventory, and interrogate the American South of her childhood, and its legacy of segregation and song. Black's is a voice full of other voices, from tough-girl Mephista to tender prayer; hers is a poetry full of promise and pain, migrating from Otis Redding to nanotechnology. Cottonlandia is a book steeped in the past, but whose time is now.

(Kevin Young)

About the Author

A former Wallace Stegner and NEA fellow, Rebecca Black is an assistant professor in the MFA program at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. In 2011, she was a Fulbright scholar at the Seamus Heaney Center for Poetry in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her poems have been published in Poetry, Poetry Daily, Pleiades, Colorado Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many other journals. Online, poems and interviews can be found at From the Fishouse and Blackbird magazine. Originally from Albany, Georgia, Black has a B.A. from Tulane University and an M.F.A. from Indiana University. Previously, she has taught at Santa Clara University and in the Writer's Studio at Stanford University. She and her family now divide their time between North Carolina and San Francisco.Her website is:

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Brooke Koeppel on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Cottonlandia never betrays itself as a first book. Black is winking at us, sly smile, unafraid of her footing, "I've built a fort from the alphabet,/ its scattered letters." Here, Eli Whitney, William Bartram and Captain Walker are carried by Black with the same linguistic precision and self-awareness as her personal histories. The past, whether in the 1700s or 1989, is conjured, not scribed, "God of histories, make yourself known," and though mounds are cleared and floodlights 'totemic,' Black's draft of the past is mercurial, irreverent- "Paper fans given by competing/ funeral homes disappeared after/the church got conditioned air."

The first two sections of the book ('Photographia' and 'Invention of the Cotton Gin') transgress, trespass through history book and family lore, the third, 'My only Golem,' is where we find the true magic in Black's writing.

Here 'Miss Black' and 'Mephista,' her golem, trade verse that is sharp, mean-spirited at times, but a treasure to readers. "I do your dirty work, Missus. I'm that wench." Mephista slings at Miss Black. 'Mephista as the Desert Rose,' and 'Vegas and Environs,' are treasures in this collection, for sure, but also help prove that Black's work belongs with the best of those writing today.

Cottonlandia is truly a joy to read, reread.
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By MizB on January 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
These poems are simply transporting. Black paints portraits in words, so real you can reach out and hold them in your hand. She goes beyond the myth and stereotypes of the south and gives the reader a taste of the southern soul. I've read this volume a dozen times now and can't help but come back for more.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 7, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Poetry scares me sometimes. Despite that, I had heard some of these poems at a reading by the author and I was looking forward to this volume. And I wasn't disappointed. Quite simply, these peoms made my laugh, smile, frown, and even at time tear up. And only occasionally reach for my dictionary.
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