April 12, 2016

Saturday, April 3, 2010

National Poetry Month 50 State Tour -- Georgia

The fourth stop on our 50 state tour of poets laureate is Georgia. The Peach State (official fruit since 1995) joined the union on January 2, 1778.

Fun facts about Georgia include that its State Possum is Pogo Possum. Which makes me wonder whether any other states have an official possum. And how many state animals are not actual animals, but cartoons.
Are you a fan of the Weird States series of books (which started with the magazine, Weird New Jersey, natch)? Take the "Weird Georgia" quiz.

Georgia is on *my* mind because it has had a state poet laureate since 1925. No breaks or break-ups. No dumping poetry over politics (yes, I mean you, New Jersey).
David Bottoms has been Georgia's poet laureate since 2000. James Dickey said, "One cannot read him without being nerve-touched by his sardonic yet compassionate countryman's voice, his hunter's irony."

As long as we're visiting, let's see for ourselves.

My Daughter at the Gymnastics Party

by David Bottoms 

When I sat for a moment in the bleachers
of the lower-school gym
to watch, one by one, the girls of my daughter’s kindergarten
climb the fat rope hung over the Styrofoam pit,
I remembered my sweet exasperated mother
and those shifting faces of injury
that followed me like an odor to ball games and practices,
playgrounds of monkey bars
and trampolines, those wilted children sprouting daily
in that garden of trauma behind her eyes.

Then Rachel’s turn,
the smallest child in class, and up she went, legs twined
on the rope, ponytail swinging, fifteen, twenty,
twenty-five feet, the pink tendrils of her leotard
climbing without effort
until she’d cleared the lower rafters.
She looked down, then up, hanging in that balance
of pride and fear

Read what Bottoms does with "those wilted children sprouting daily in that garden of trauma" he remembers in his mother's eyes  -- the rest of the poem is here.

Let's pack some fried chicken for the car ride back up the east coast. (Another Georgia fun fact -- Gainesville is reportedly the chicken capital of the world.) 

We'll continue our National Poetry Month state tour in Connecticut. I heard they need someone to fill their vacant State Poet Laureate position.

This road sign is so funny, I may just forgive you Connecticut.

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