When I was at at the Louisiana Studies Conference this past weekend I heard a poetry reading by Dr. JC Reilly of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Unfortunately, due to the scheduling I didn't get to spend much time talking to her but I had forgotten how much I like good poetry and her's was definitely good.
She mentioned that one reason she wrote poetry was because she didn't have the patience to write a novel. I think she was being too tough on herself because, to be painfully honest, I think it is easier to write novels than it is to write good poetry.
In several of the pieces that she read Dr. Reilly did a great job of conveying the essence of both the South and the Louisiana, particularly in the areas of its gentility (although to those of you who think Swamp People depicts all of Louisiana this might come as a bit of a surprise.
Her reading inspired me to try and write a book of poems but I don't think I can capture the same essence of the people as she did, so I thought about a book of poems that has a central theme and, since it's my book and I can do as I please, I also thought I would try to make sure that each poem contained one phrase that was the same. The poems are going to be about Louisiana and I can only think of only one thing (other than a love of the New Orleans Saints) that is consistent from north to south and east to west in Louisiana.
I'm going to throw the first poem I wrote out here for your perusal. I'm not finished with the others because they just don't come as easy to me as the short stories and novels.
The book of poems will be called Always the Heat.
Note I did not say that the poem was good, I just said that I wrote it. However, I will say I do like it.
Winter in Louisiana
Winter arrives in Louisiana,
when it gets damn good and ready.
We can't count on cold weather for Halloween
or anytime specific.
The only thing we can count on is
We occasionally get respites.
Brief interludes of crisp goodness
Trickling down from way up north.
Occasionally, winter rushes in,
A blue norther dropping the temperatures
Quicker than the days pass for an old man.
The shorts in the morning changing to a parka in the afternoon.
But only for a short while
At times suffocating,
heat and humidity together combining to
form a gumbo of air,
breathing requiring effort,
walking, a sweat drenched endeavor.
From the pine woods up north
To the swamps of the south
Louisiana is unique.
The people vary as much as the terrain.
There is only one constant in Louisiana