Monday, August 15, 2005

Kettle Bottom Gets Spanked

Well, I'm back from vacation, and have spent the day sifting through emails, catching up on my comrades-in-blog, and posting squibs of various sorts to A Big Jewish Blog and the Say Something Wonderful Yahoo Group.

One bit of news that caught my eye from the Wom-po list: Smith College has assigned a book of poetry as their "class book" this fall: Kettle Bottom, by Diane Gilliam Fisher, which uses dramatic monologues to investigate and bring to life the West Virginia coal mine wars of 1920-21. ("Think Edgar Lee Masters meets Walker Evans," quips a review that's linked to the Smith website announcing the choice.)

Evidently Marjorie Perloff has blasted the selection, but since I don't have the Chronicle of Higher Education access, I can't quote her--and don't want to put words in her mouth. As a sometime West Virginian, however, I couldn't be happier if the Mountaineers won the...well, whatever it is they could win. (Alas, my daddy never managed to make me a football fan.)

From the Smith website, here is "A Reporter from New York Asks Edith Mae Chapman, Age Nine, What Her Daddy Tells her about the Strike":
We ain’t to go in the company store, mooning
over peppermint sticks, shaming ourselves like a dog
begging under the table. They cut off our account
but we ain’t no-account. We ain’t to go to school
so’s the company teacher can tell us we are.
The ain’t going to meeting and bow our heads
for the company preacher, who claims it is the meek
will inherit the coal fields, instead of telling
how the mountains will crumble and rocks
rain down like fire upon the heads
of the operators, like it says in the Bible.
We ain’t to talk to now dirtscum scabs
and we ain’t to talk to God. My daddy
is very upset with the Lord.

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