The Dirty Side of the Storm: Poems

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9780393331431: The Dirty Side of the Storm: Poems

"At once a love song and a dirge to a landscape being swallowed by the waters that define it."―St. Petersburg Times

An evocative meditation on destruction and creation, the sacred and ephemeral, along Louisiana's coast. In poems that bear witness to the eroding bayou country and its Cajun culture, Martha Serpas venerates a vanishing landscape defined by water―sensuous, fecund, and destructive. As marsh turns into gulf, identity and consciousness are transformed as well. Serpas's verses invest paradox with her own defiantly spiritual meaning.

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About the Author:

Martha Serpasis a native of Galliano, Louisiana. She is currently an associate professor of English at University of Houston. Her previous collection of poems is called Côte Blanche.

From Publishers Weekly:

The Gulf Coast and especially the Louisiana bayous, with their marsh grass, generations of fishermen, well-known natural disasters and ever-present coastal erosion, give Serpas's second volume both its strong flavor and its dominant subjects. Generations of Cajuns view "the steady vanishing/ Of your birthplace before your eyes," but also the beauty of "a blue heron lifting from brown stubble/ Light off bleached barnacles, helicopter blades// Beating the marsh into submission." Some poems take names from local landmarks ("Bayou Lafource," "Bully Camp Road"), others from general truths ("Faith in Florida"), but almost all respond to the southeastern coast, extending from Houston (where Serpas once lived) to Tampa (where she teaches now), from the dilapidation of "The Boat Shed" to "A pink-taffeta-ball-gown-and-bourbon/ sky." Curtains of descriptive lushness gather, then part, to reveal human vulnerability or human affection in Serpas's carefully clarified unrhymed stanzas. Explorations of Christian tradition and belief form an undercurrent throughout Serpas's work: "corrupted flesh confirms our/ Deepest knowledge," even though "the land wants the water,/ to be the water, to forget." Though Serpas (Cote Blanche, 2002) finished all but one of these poems before Katrina, the shadow of hurricane, flood and subsequent carnage falls over these Louisiana laments. (Nov.)
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