Cover image for Elegy for the southern drawl
Elegy for the southern drawl
Jones, Rodney, 1950-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999.
Physical Description:
102 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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PS3560.O5263 E44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A bawdy, witty revelation by an award-winning poet who celebrates the soul of the South in jest and in elegy. Exulting in the drawl of his native Alabama, Rodney Jones's poems play out the life cycle of the young southern white male, from high school football games to first debauchery, from ignorance to self-understanding. Other poems speak of laying sewer pipe, of crows and sex, ink and raccoons, penises and perpetual motion machines. In many of these poems the southern drawl lives forever, riding on the tide of regional language, poking fun yet delighting in it. Jones dedicates other poems to poetry readings and English departments, to William Matthews, to Isaac Bashevis Singer, and to William Carlos Williams. His poems burst with wit, robust experience, and earthy intelligence. Awarded the AWP writing prize by Elizabeth Bishop and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Rodney Jones is one of the most original poets in America.

Author Notes

Winner of the 1989 National Book Critics Circle Award, Rodney Jones is a professor of English at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

"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 ChartresÄSalter (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 beÄ/ 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 differentÄor more deserving of our attention.ÄLouis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Sometimes in one summer, one would hear, In one family, four or five distinct accents: Low-country mushmouth; mountain twang The almost r-less river talk of merchant planters Droned out and of a lazy kinship to the sleek Ambidextrous blackspeak of their former slaves And the hated northun brogue, smuggled Back from Dee-troit to parlay credit on a half Pound of bologna and a box of Velveeta cheese. Copyright (c) 1999 by Rodney Jones Excerpted from Elegy for the Southern Drawl by Rodney Jones All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.