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Mississippi has produced outstanding writers in numbers far out of proportion to its population. Their contributions to American literature, including poetry, rank as enormous. Mississippi Poets: A Literary Guide showcases forty-seven poets associated with the state and assesses their work with the aim of appreciating it and its place in today's culture.
In Mississippi, the importance of poetry can no longer be doubted. It partakes, as Faulkner wrote, of the broad aim of all literature: "to uplift man's heart." In Mississippi Poets, author Catharine Savage Brosman introduces readers to the poets themselves, stressing their versatility and diversity. She describes their subject matter and forms, their books, and particularly representative or striking poems. Of broad interest and easy to consult, this book is both a source of information and a showcase. It highlights the organic connection between poetry by Mississippians and the indigenous music genres of the region, blues and jazz. No other state has produced such abundant and impressive poetry connected to these essential American forms.
Brosman profiles and assesses poets from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Grounds for selection include connections between the poets and the state; the excellence and abundance of their work; its critical reception; and both local and national standing. Natives of Mississippi and others who have resided here draw equal consideration. As C. Liegh McInnis observed, "You do not have to be born in Mississippi to be a Mississippi writer. . . . If what happens in Mississippi has an immediate and definite effect on your work, you are a Mississippi writer.