It is important to have these strong, adze-crafted poems again. George Scarbrough is a necennsry poet who has been all too infrequently heard of late. His Eastanalle is as firmly sited as E. A. Robinson's Tilbury Town and as quirkily populated as Jesse Stuart's W-Hollow. Welcom back, Tellico Blue. -- Fred Chappell
From the Publisher
As the twentieth century comes to a close, it is appropriate to consider one of the strongest, most enduring and original voices of the rural South that have appeared in the past 50 years. Indeed, George Scarbrough has been around for most of the century, having been born in 1915 in the dirt- poor Polk County, Tennessee, of that era. Both Polk County and George have changed a lot in the past 84 years, but one thing has remained constant. It is Scarbrough's perfect pitch when it comes to the speech patterns and cultural idiosyncracies of his native ground. Layered on top of this remarkable accuracy in his portrayal of "place" is a language so rich and intricate that it is quite unlike that of any other contemporary writer.
This book was first published to considerable acclaim over 50 years ago. It has been out of print for nearly half a century, but the few copies that remain are coveted collector's items, and there is still considerable demand for the book. One might ask why publish an old book of poetry, when so many good new books are published each year. There are reasons, aside from the obvious one that good books should remain in print.
Interest in George Scarbrough's work has flowered in recent years. But one of the problems contemporary readers have in fully understanding George's work lies in his longevity. His work is spread out over so many years that most of early works are simply unavailable, even in libraries, to modern readers. And this early work is important. It is different from what he is writing today, but it informs his entire body of work and provides a glimpse of the basic source of all of George Scarbrough's writings. We see clearly in these poems the love and stress at work in an impoverished and dysfunctional family at that time in that place. Iris Press is republishing Tellico Blue, not only because of its intrinsic beauty, but because we believe that it's important for today's readers to have at least some of Scarbrough's early work available when they start to evaluate this remarkable writer's impact on 20th century Southern literature.
--Robert B. Cumming