The opening poem of the book, "Early Summer Babysitter," read by Literary Atlanta's Alison Law for Book Cougars:
Now available from Finishing Line Press and at Amazon.com:
Praise for Long Alabama Summer:
From Marge Piercy, poet and novelist, author of Made in Detroit:
I have followed Katherine Perry's poetry since 2011, watched her work grow in power and confidence over the years. LONG ALABAMA SUMMER demonstrates her ability to write strong and sensual poems that are rich in the specifics of her Southern environment but relatable for many readers, especially women. She is not afraid to deal in fine poems with the contradictions and constrictions of racism.
From Andrea Witzke Slot, author of To Find a New Beauty and The Ministry of Flowers:
Katherine D. Perry introduces her debut collection of poems by telling readers about her first literary love: Sylvia Plath. And Plath indeed haunts the material of Perry's work throughout, not only in the sincerity and forthright honesty of the poems but in the very fabric of the poems' construction, music, and eloquence. These are poems that make the reader ache, that pull at the threads of who we are and who were and the memories that make us. Perry's work incorporates bold and courageous subject matter inside a quiet rhythmic beauty that stands apart from a good deal of the contemporary work being published today, which all-too-often uses syntactical experimentation and showmanship at the cost of truly connecting to the reader. You will read these poems and you will want more of Perry's work. And you will want to know Katherine D. Perry, the author of such beauty, such raw honesty, such forthright talent borne of memory and experience. Perry is the real McCoy. I hope this will be the first of many books to come.
From Eve Lyons, editor of Poetic Medicine and author of Tikkun Olam:
Katherine Perry is the poet that Sylvia Plath might have become if Sylvia Plath had dumped Ted Hughes instead of killing herself. If Sylvia Plath had gone to Marge Piercy's writing workshop instead of killing herself. If Sylvia Plath had grown up in the South instead of in New England.
If you want to understand what it is like surviving men like Roy Moore, and what it is like to be a Southern feminist woman, you should read this book. Katherine Perry's poetry will haunt you and move you and make you want to scream and cry and sometimes, breathe a sigh of relief.
For me, the poem that haunts me most is "Daddy Gave Me Away" but there are so amazing poems in here, so many that will stay with you for days and weeks, just the way Sylvia Plath's poetry still hasn't left me after first reading it in high school.
For Addie Mae
Have you heard the one about
the shivering lives,
the never to be borne daughters and sons
--Lucille Clifton, “Alabama 9/15/63”
I thought to name a daughter after you,
to throw all tradition to the wind and pay
tribute to what was lost: a white child
with the name of a brown girl killed six years
before I was born. A few letters strung
together as a token gesture, to say:
we are not all that way.
I too was born in Alabama, but in 1969,
and into a white, working-class family that still
bought segregation, into tradition that spit
at Malcolm, into a region that could not see
King’s dream. Years have passed since
you and three other little girls
have been gone, and who remembers?
I thought to name my daughter after you,
to offer a name to the universe as a signal,
as a way to remind us how far we might
travel in only a few years.
But, you see, I have no daughter
and none on the way. There are too many
bombs in churches, men dragging men
behind trucks, obscenities carved into
car hoods to bring a child here.
I thought to name myself fearless.
I thought to stand up shouting.
I think of your sweet round face hidden under bricks and dust.
There must be something that I can offer.
There must be some way to mend.
and every plate is
a metaphor: I remember
which sink in which town
gave me that chip or crack;
the tiny glass cup from my great aunt
given before she died
when she was cleaning out her cabinets,
a perfect size for dipping sauces;
pasta bowls from your sister
that are an eass shape
for black beans with cheese;
forks we stood in the aisles
and compared with every other boxed set.
We never use the silver
from our wedding gifts.
I admire the cups that have
made all fourteen of our moves
with us, the ones we used in college
before we were too snooty
for Tupperware and all things plastic,
and I stack those right beside
the new metal bottles that make us
feel somehow earth-friendly.
When I put away the cake pan,
the one I found for your birthday cake,
I place it more gently than needed
for a metal frame. It has held,
after all, the silly sugar
metaphors of one person’s attempt
to please another.
From the Author:
Long Alabama Summer is my first volume of poetry. In it, I explore the experiences of growing up in the deep south while learning to understand the conflicting emotions of those experiences. In Requiem for a Nun, William Faulkner famously writes, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." While I no longer live in Alabama, I grew up, was educated, and formed my world-view in Alabama. Most of my family still lives there. It is the state that shaped me, and while it is a geographically beautiful state, I never felt completely at home there, and I never feel completely at home elsewhere. This book explores the difficulty of that relationship through lyric poetry that tells stories from my life and stories from my imagination. Like Faulkner, I am intrigued by geography and history and the way they shape us.