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Elegy for the Southern Drawl Hardcover – March 29, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

"Where/ this has happened is so remote/ that clarity would misrepresent/ not only distance but our feeling/ about distance." So Salter describes the blurry picture in the papers of the Russian cosmonaut welcoming his American colleague to the Mir space station is fitting, adding, "The very/ Russianness of the bear hugs was/ dizzily universal." A kiss in space, indeed. No less exhilarating, however, is the hot-air balloon ride over ChartresASalter (Sunday Skaters, Knopf, 1994) goes to great lengths for original vantage points. These poems are adventures, as daring as the stories they tell, and Salter's telling is always intelligent and clear as well as charming. She watches as the Titanic goes down on her 21" screen (the Stanwick version) and creates a slip of time when Hellen Keller, A. Conan Doyle, and Alexander Graham Bell come together, a confluence that is wry, witty, and smart. Jones's (Things That Happen Once, LJ 1/96) adventures are more down to earth, although his Alabama, at times, seems as exotic as a pebble rolling through the sky. His poems celebrate the South: the characters, the casual pace, and the wild kudzu of its language. His people are as likely to end up in a woodland face to face with an owl as in a crack house in the country. On a carney ride with his son, the poet observes: "This is not the way it should beA/ I should be the one afraid, and you brave./ Right, I said." He recruits another child to dig in the yard and repair a faulty pipe: "Father was never so proud/ Of daughter." There are poems about sex and football, about raccoons and rock'n'roll, and all are rich with a Southern voice, delighting in diction and its possibilities. It is difficult to imagine two poets more differentAor more deserving of our attention.ALouis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A southerner teaching in the cold North (Univ. of So. Illinois), Jones clings to his good-old-boy roots in this sixth collection: a big volume of mostly blank verse so expansive in its gestures that Jones doesnt seem to know whats expendable. Certainly, the grumpy poems about poetry readings, the rants against lit-crit and academic egoists, and the AA tales that further support his boasts of authenticityhes worked with the tongue-tied, the murderous, the illiterate / and the alcoholic, all of whom validate his present-day plain-speaking common sense, or so he would have us believe. Jones praises liberally: his penis, the focus of his religion (Sacrament for My Penis); himself, a regular guy doing laundry (Doing Laundry); Isaac B. Singer, for the courage to be simple and precise (The Limousine . . .); William Matthews for his blues grace (The Secret ... ); and his daughter for digging a ditch on her college break (For Alexis). Jones is at his best in Dixie, remembering his high-school football team (Natural Selection); the communal tonic of music in the South (One Music); and the hick Zen of Alabama, where Down- home trust rhymes first with lust. The title sequence, a wonderful compendium of southern-inflected quotations and anecdotes, mixes a profile of Big Jim Folsom, a recording of Faulkner, a sketch of Nashville as a world mecca; his mothers varied diction; and his own memories of shame at his accent: the raw carcass / of the mispronounced. Despite himself, a tighter poet than his hero Whitman: Jones lacks the room to roam and yawp, though hes always eminently readable. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (March 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395956161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395956168
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,852,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rodney Jones, born in Alabama and educated at the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has published widely in leading magazines, in The Oxford Book of Contemporary American Poetry, and in eight editions of The Best American Poetry. His books include Imaginary Logic (2011); Salvation Blues: 100 Poems, 1985-2005, which won the Kingsley Tufts Prize and was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize; Elegy for the Southern Drawl (1999), a Pulitzer finalist; Things That Happen Once (1996), a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist; and Transparent Gestures (1989), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Jean Stein Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A professor and distinguished scholar emeritus at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he teaches in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Rodney Jones can tell the kind of stories that get you through a hard night or accompany you on a journey home. He writes in a cranked-up, gentled-out vernacular that is as sturdy and dependable as an old hickory, but his lyric gifts make blossoms spring forth even in the coldest times. His South is a place in the heart and a place in the mouth where we can commit beauty or atrocity but where we are always revealing, under his hand, our proud and vulnerable humanity. This will be the best book of poetry published in English this year.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Rodney Jones is among the most unique poets we've ever had--he can make you smile; he can hurt you good. His ear for the cadences of speech--all speech, from the corn pone plain-spoken to academic nit-wittery--is superb. He gets better every book, and he was fabulous three or four books back.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Rodney Jones is the best Southern poet working today
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