17
Nov 17

Finding Promise in Poetry

It’s rare that I write a poem that doesn’t in some way draw upon the work I have read by other poets, writers or artists, be they living or dead, famous or lesser known. Throughout the house, small stacks of books and magazines of poetry, essays, art catalogs, fiction and non-fiction, entice me to spend time with them every day.  While reading, I keep a running list of words and phrases that inspire me, spark my interest or look like they might be good source material for one of my own poems.

In my third collection, Promise, the titles of several of my poems owe debts to other writers’ works. For instance, “Housewife as Poet” came about after I read “Poet as Housewife” in a 2009 issue of Poetry magazine written by contemporary Dutch poet Elisabeth Eybers. For another poem title, I borrowed the phrase “The Book of Usable Minutes” from the first line of the poem, “Train Rising Out of the Sea” by late great John Ashbery. After reading the artist Jenny Holzer’s truisms in her “The Living Series” and “Laments,” I re-purposed her words and phrases in two of my poems. As Trent Brown noted in his recent LSU Press Blog post, Tennessee Williams is a vibrant source and my poem “The Kindness of Strangers” lifts its title and other diction from “A Streetcar Named Desire.” It feels often like I’m making word collages as I add layers of text and images that I have discovered through reading others.

Over the years of building my poetry library, my gratitude has increased for the many presses committed to publishing poetry, LSU Press being one of them. In graduate school, I was introduced to the work of Jay Wright in his collected poems Transfigurations (LSU Press, 2000) and continue to be intrigued by his distinctive depictions of the poet in place and time. I have earmarked about half the pages in Liesel Mueller’s Alive Together (LSU Press, 1996) in admiration for her deft ability to describe living lyrically and unabashedly. In Bonneville, from Elixir Press (2007), Liesel’s poet daughter, Jenny Mueller offers poems of introspection in varied landscapes. In Matt Rassmussen’s Black Aperture (LSU Press, 2012) I was jolted from the comfort of my morning reading chair into these bold and tender variations on a sibling’s suicide.


In addition to reading poems in books, magazines and online, I also rely upon anthologies and collections of essays about poetry and art to support the creation of my work and broaden my knowledge and experience. Here are just a few of the many resources I hold dear.

Mary Oliver, Upstream (Penguin, 2016). Encouraging essays about writing and paying attention.

Carl Phillips, The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination (Graywolf, 2014). Chock full of compelling reasons to write poetry with emphasis on assertion and resistance.

Claudia Rankine and Juliana Spahr, American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (Wesleyan, 2002). Excellent revelations about craft and theory from the perspective of ten featured writers.

J.D. McClatchy, editor, Poets on Painters: Essays on the Art of Painting by Twentieth Century Poets (University of California Press, 1989). Intoxicating essays about art from diverse poetic points of view.

Ed Hirsch, How to Read a Poem and Fall In Love With Poetry (Harcourt, Brace 1999). An engaging love to song to poetry in all its forms with an indispensable Glossary.

Molly Peacock, How to Read a Poem . . . and Start a Poetry Circle (Riverhead, 1999). Illuminating lessons on how to look, hear and make poetry part of your life.

Susan Stewart, The Open Studio: Essays on Art and Aesthetics (University of Chicago Press, 2005). Lucid examinations of the creative process in contemporary art.

Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (HarperPerennial, 1998). Exacting and sensitive accounts revealing the magic, mystery and power of poetry.


Sally Van Doren has published two previous poetry collections with LSU Press: Sex at Noon Taxes (2008) and Possessive (2012). Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, including American Poet, Boulevard, the Cincinnati Review, the New Republic, and the Southern Review. She has taught poetry at the 92nd Street Y in New York and curates the Sunday Poetry Workshops for the St. Louis Poetry Center.

Buy Promise today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


14
Nov 17

Jump Start Your Holiday Shopping at Season’s Readings

Jump Start Your Holiday Shopping at Season’s Readings

Join LSU Press for A Holiday Book + Journal Sale

Tuesday, November 28, 4:30–6:30 p.m., LSU Barnes and Noble

This November, as you’re making your plans for the holiday season, pencil Season’s Readings into your calendar! As part of LSU’s Holiday Spectacular 2017, LSU Press and The Southern Review welcome you to our annual book and journal sale, with gift ideas for everyone on your shopping list. A copy of The Golden Band from Tigerland signed by author Faye Phillips will hit just the right note with the music fans in your life, while armchair historians will pore over Stanley Nelson’s tireless investigation into Klan murders of the 1960s, Devils Walking. Howard Chaykin scholar Brannon Costello, poet Alison Pelegrin, and culinary experts Melinda Winans and Cindy Nobles will also be in attendance to sign copies of their books, along with Mardi Gras historian Brian Costello.

This year’s Season’s Readings, on Tuesday, 28th November, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the LSU Barnes and Noble, boasts a wide array of great titles at 20% off, many local authors in attendance, and free gift wrapping. Shop for great books and mingle with renowned authors. Parking will be available in the Union Square Parking Garage.

Special guests will be in attendance to sign copies of LSU Press books:

Vince Caire, author of Military Aviation in the Gulf South

Brannon Costello, author of Neon Visions

Brian Costello, author of Carnival in Louisiana

Stanley Nelson, author of Devils Walking

Cindy Nobles, coauthor of The Fonville Winans Cookbook

Melinda Winans, coauthor of The Fonville Winans Cookbook

Alison Pelegrin, author of Waterlines

Faye Phillips, author of The Golden Band from Tigerland

Many other LSU Press titles as well as gift subscriptions and individual issues of The Southern Review will be available for sale. The LSU Barnes and Noble is located at the corner of Highland Road and Raphael Semmes, across Highland from the LSU Union.

For more information on Season’s Readings please contact LSU Press at 225.578.8282 or visit www.lsupress.org and our Facebook event.


10
Nov 17

Understanding the Televisual South

It’s hard to turn on the television and not think about the U.S. South. From reality shows such as The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Southern Charm, and Duck Dynasty, to fear-inducing thrillers like The Walking Dead, True Blood, and True Detective, and bingeable shows including Atlanta, Ozark, Queen Sugar, and Dexter, the U.S. South seems to be broadcast everywhere, functioning on the small-screen as a spectacle of fascination, ridicule, danger, and desire.

Even when the South isn’t the central setting of the show, it somehow manages to work its way into the frame. Take, for example, HBO’s latest David Simon and George Pelecanos venture The Deuce, set in Manhattan in the late seventies. Not even five episodes in, and there we are outside a barbeque restaurant on the outskirts of Charlotte as one of the main characters—a prostitute named Darlene—lures an unsuspecting “country cousin” back with her to the city and into the sex-industry of 42nd street. It’s not hard to think of other examples of shows harnessing the South’s signifying powers, often engendering the region in the process—Charlotte as “southern belle” on Sex in the City, or Detective Amanda Rollins’ role as southerner on the long-running Law and Order: SVU. The premise and pleasure of these series emerges in part from their play with foundational myths of southern womanhood and ideas about region in relation to nation.

Yet this “southern programming” is hardly a new phenomenon. From 1960s favorites The Andy Griffith Show and The Beverly Hillbillies to the 80s and 90s series Dallas and A Different World and the 2000s teen drama One Tree Hill, the U.S. South has managed to hold on through multiple TV turns. Of course, some of the recent proliferation of the South on television is a result of the numerous tax incentives the industry has received from southern states and cities eager to bring new business into their borders. Regardless of one’s geographical home, there’s a good chance a TV viewer has been watching some version of the South for years—and in turn people in the South have been watching themselves imagined on the small screen.

While recent collections such as Deborah Barker and Katherine McKee’s American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary have stirred interest in visual representations of the region, the role of television, we noticed, was largely neglected, despite a proliferation of programming set in and about the South. Our work in Small-Screen Souths: Region, Identity, and the Cultural Politics of Television seeks to fill in this gap and to raise meaningful questions about what it means to watch the South across the domestic intimacy and public ubiquity of the televisual medium. As the first book-length study broadly dedicated to the relationship between television and the U.S. South, our collection considers the region and its televisual archive from the classical network era to our contemporary “post-broadcast” era, focusing on how the televisual South speaks to national and transnational transformations, including changing ways of thinking about race, class, gender, and regional identity itself.

We worked consciously to solicit work from contributors from diverse fields, so as to emphasize the variety of intellectual approaches that are possible at the intersections of television, regionalism, nationalism, and globalization, and to reflect a nuanced vision of place. The result, we think, is an intensely readable and teachable collection of sixteen essays that offer dynamic new ways of thinking about the televisual South.


A few key texts functioned as foundational scholarship for our understanding of the relationship between the U.S. South and mass media in Small-Screen Souths: Region, Identity, and the Cultural Politics of Television.

Deborah Barker and Kathryn McKee, American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary (UGA Press, 2011). This book is a key inspiration for our collection: we admire its scope, its readability, and the way in which it persuasively makes the case that that, far from being a marginal or merely regional set of tropes and images, the South has been integral to the development of filmmaking on a national scale. Barker and McKee’s concept of “the southern imaginary,” which they define as “an amorphous and sometimes conflicting collection of images, ideas, attitudes, practices, linguistic accents, histories, and fantasies about a shifting geographic region and time,” was influential for our development of our central concept of the “televisual South.”

Karen L. Cox, Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture (UNC Press, 2013). Cox traces the history of the U.S. South in popular culture from the late nineteenth century through World War II, drawing attention to the establishment of key southern icons—the mammy, the belle, the plantation—in film, popular music, radio, and literature, while emphasizing the connections between regional and national identity.

Allison Graham, Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle (Johns Hopkins UP, 2003). Graham brilliantly surveys the ways in which the media, particularly television and film, presented southerners during the period of the civil rights revolution, with a special emphasis on how films have confronted—or avoided—issues of racism.

Jack T. Kirby, Media-Made Dixie: The South In the American Imagination (UGA Press, 2004). Kirby’s study develops a portrait of how “Dixie” comes into fashion through popular culture from early cinematic sensations such as The Birth of a Nation to the plays and cinematic adaptations of Tennessee Williams to Jimmy Carter’s presidency. While we offer a different portrait of the South and popular culture than Kirby, his book is an early touchstone text in a developing conversation about the interplay between mass culture and regional identity.

Amanda D. Lotz, The Television Will Be Revolutionized (NYU Press, 2007). Lotz persuasively details how the television is not dead in the age of digital media and the “post-network” era; rather, she argues, it is being “revolutionized” by portable viewing devices and digital recording.

Anna McCarthy, Ambient Television: Visual Culture and Public Space (Duke UP, 2001). Arguing against the ways that television studies has long focused on domestic spaces, McCarthy examines how television is a pervasive phenomenon outside the home, filling our time in airports, sporting events, and waiting rooms. She also discusses the different roles that television plays in these contexts, focusing on how “ambient television” mobilizes us into captive audiences for ideas about gender, class, and consumption.

Tara McPherson, Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender, and Nostalgia in the Imagined South (Duke UP, 2003). McPherson’s masterful book reinvigorated southern studies through inventively drawing on a diverse archive—fiction, film, television, southern studies scholarship, journalism, music, tourist sites, the internet, and autobiography—to reveal how the “lenticular logic” that has dominated the U.S. South’s remembering of its past has also shaped our national identity.

Scott Romine, The Real South: Southern Narrative in the Age of Cultural Reproduction (LSU Press, 2008). Romine examines what it means to understand the U.S. South in the “age of cultural reproduction,” wherein cultural identity must be understood within the broader context of mass media, global corporations, and the logic of commodification. Romine’s compelling arguments about artifice, authenticity, and “reality” resonate throughout our collection.


Lisa Hinrichsen, associate professor of English and director of graduate studies at the University of Arkansas, is the author of Possessing the Past: Trauma, Imagination, and Memory in Post-Plantation Southern Literature.

Gina Caison is assistant professor of English at Georgia State University.

Stephanie Rountree is a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the Department of English at Auburn University.

Buy Small-Screen Souths today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


03
Nov 17

Five Howard Chaykin-esque Contemporary Comics

In Neon Visions, I discuss the ways in which Howard Chaykin’s work, once routinely hailed as groundbreaking in its themes and innovative in exploiting the unique properties of the comics medium, has in recent years been underappreciated or mis-understood in academic comics studies and comics fandom alike. But what about within the world of comics artists and writers? How have comics creators both within and beyond the mainstream responded to the work of an artist who expanded the boundaries of the possible in monthly adventure-genre comics? Here are five works indirectly or directly shaped by Chaykin’s influence.


Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon, Casanova (Image Comics, 2006-). Superstar indie comics writer Matt Fraction is an avowed Howard Chaykin fan and a frequent collaborator, most notably on Satellite Sam, an unblinking look at the seamy underbelly of 1950s children’s television that Fraction has frequently described as “Howard Chaykin fan-fiction.” But I tend to think of Casanova as the true spiritual successor to Chaykin titles such as American Flagg! or Time2. With Brazilian artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon trading art duties on alternating story arcs, Casanova is a series in which Fraction transforms a deeply personal and idiosyncratic set of obsessions and preoccupations into a crypto-autobiographical thrill ride.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Fatale (Image Comics, 2012-2014). Brubaker and Phillips have carved out a distinct niche for themselves doing sophisticated crime comics in a marketplace dominated by superheroes, expanding the territory that Chaykin helped to establish with series such as The Shadow and Black Kiss. Like Chaykin, Phillips is clearly an aficionado of classic twentieth century American illustration, and his elegant, moody art calls to mind the work of illustrators such as Robert Maguire or Robert McGinnis. I could have picked just about any of their collaborations for this spot – their anthology series Criminal, their supervillain crime caper Incognito, their blacklist-era Hollywood mystery The Fade Out – but their supernatural noir Fatale seems to owe a clear debt to Black Kiss, picking up its themes of obsession, identity, and the place of women in genre entertainment and taking them in a new direction.

Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov, Fury MAX: My War Gone By (Marvel, 2012-2013). Chaykin’s Blackhawk drew acclaim and controversy for taking DC Comics’ stalwart, square-jawed, and slightly dull World War II aviator and putting him in a carefully researched, richly imagined historical context, eschewing “greatest generation” rhetoric for a nuanced look at the interlocking political forces and ideological fantasies that characterized the immediate pre-war years. Written by Garth Ennis – another sometime Chaykin collaborator, most notably on the WWI flying ace series War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle – and beautifully cartooned by Goran Parlov, My War Gone By makes a similar move with Marvel Comics’ World-War-II-hero-turned-superspy Nick Fury, transporting the character to (somewhat) more realistically imagined post-war hotspots like Vietnam and Cuba for a tale about the follies of American empire. (Side note: Goran Parlov is also the artist for Marvel’s The Punisher: Welcome to the Bayou by Baton Rouge’s own Victor Gischler, a story in which the Punisher dresses up in an LSU tracksuit.)

Ho Che Anderson, King: A Comics Biography (Fantagraphics Books, 1993-2003, 2010). Chaykin is one of Anderson’s oft-cited inspirations, and the evidence is all over his monumental graphic biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. – not only in the clashing patterns and textures and disorienting page layouts that recall Black Kiss and Time2 but also in Anderson’s consideration of both the value and danger of American mythology, in his attention to the place of human failings and foibles in grand political narratives, and in his unsettling depiction of the ways in which mass media shapes our response to and understanding of history.

Michel Fiffe, Copra (2012-). Fiffe’s one-man showcase – long available only through his Etsy store, now available digitally – began as a love letter to titans of 1980s comics such as Chaykin, Frank Miller, and Bill Sienkiewicz, filtered through an affectionate riff on John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell’s classic Suicide Squad. As the series evolved, however, it became clear that the series was something purely his own, an eye-popping visual delight whose sketch-on-the-back-of-a-notebook energy was the expression of an original and uncontainable vision. Taking secondhand scraps of genre entertainment and making them truly your own – I can’t think of anything more Chaykin-esque than that.


Brannon Costello, associate professor of English at Louisiana State University, is the editor of Howard Chaykin: Conversations and Conversations with Michael Chabon; and, with Qiana J. Whitted, coeditor of Comics and the U.S. South.

Buy your copy of Neon Visions today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


27
Oct 17

October Roundup: News, Events, Reviews

We’ve been in high gear this October at LSU Press! The Fonville Winans Cookbook was named a Fall 2017 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. The Writer’s Almanac featured “Defiance” and “The Book of Usable Minutes” by Sally Van Doren as well as “Daughter” by Lisel Mueller. Poems by Kelly Cherry were read on KSFR’s Audio Saucepan. “Mad Money” by Nicole Cooley appeared on Poetry Daily. And Gambit published a short interview with Kathryn Fontenot. Cynthia Lejeune Nobles, Nicole Cooley, and Susannah J. Ural wrote fantastic posts for the LSU Press Blog. And we published new books by Richard Campanella, Brannon Costello, James L. Huston, Terry L. Jones, and Melinda Risch Winans and Cynthia Lejeune Nobles.

Below you’ll find a list of our November titles, upcoming events with our authors, and some selected publicity from October.  And if you want to keep up with LSU Press in real time, follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.


New in November

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We will be at the Louisiana Book Festival tomorrow! Come say hello, attend special panels featuring our authors, and buy some books for your favorite bibliophile. In fact, take 30% off and free shipping* on select Louisiana titles until the end of the month!

Click here if calendar does not load.


Selected Publicity and Praise

The Humility of the Brutes by Ron Smith

“As a whole, Ron Smith’s “The Humility of the Brutes” is a deft and elegant figuration of the creative mind’s energetic confrontation with the eternal motion of time. Smith’s courageous poems document his tireless interaction with the endless events, places, and moments that make up human history. These are graceful, timeless poems of destiny and rebellion.”—The Journal

Visitations by Lee Upton

 “In Visitations, everyone is haunted by some version of his or her most monstrous self, but this haunting isn’t necessarily bad. Visitations suggests that monstrousness is the purest form of honesty, the bravest kind of intimacy. In a world in which we are all staving off loneliness, maybe admitting our worst impulses isthe best way to begin saving ourselves.”—Fiction Writers Review

Stepdaughters of History: Southern Women and the American Civil War by Catherine Clinton:

“These essays are extraordinarily well written. While theoretically and historiographically sophisticated, they are accessible to a general audience and also worthwhile for readers more familiar with the material.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The Fonville Winans Cookbook: Recipes and Photographs from a Louisiana Artist by Melinda Risch Winans and Cynthia Lejeune Nobles

The Fonville Winans Cookbook: Recipes and Photographs from a Louisiana Artist will appeal to cooks, those who enjoy reading biographies and those interested in photography.”—The Advocate

On to Petersburg: Grant and Lee, June 4-15, 1864 by Gordon Rhea:

“Gordon Rhea’s Overland Campaign series has rightfully earned the praise of professional historians and Civil War enthusiasts alike. It is by far the fullest military treatment of the brutal six-week showdown in Virginia between Union and Confederate heavyweights U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee during spring 1864. . . .  In On to Petersburg, Gordon Rhea’s research and battle narrative skills are as impressive in their display as they’ve ever been. . . . In every way, On to Petersburg has been well worth the long wait and is a fitting end to a series destined to become an all-time classic.”—Civil War Books and Authors 

 Power and Corruption in the Early Modern Portuguese World by Erik Lars Myrup

“A worthwhile book overall, both for the stories it tells and the questions it provokes. Myrup’s archival work is admirable, stretching from Goiania to Macau by way of metropolitan capitals, and his dominance of both European languages and Chinese strengthens his conclusions.”—The Americas

Extreme Civil War: Guerrilla Warfare, Environment, and Race on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier by Matthew M. Stith

“Among other accomplishments, Stith’s analysis of total war on the trans-Mississippi frontier does much to expand the geography of the Civil War, especially insofar as it incorporates divisions among Native Americans within Indian Territory.”—Reviews in American History

The Confederate Homefront: A History in Documents by Wallace Hettle

“English historian G. M. Trevelyan wrote: ‘Every true history must force us to remember that the past was once as real as the present and as uncertain as the future.’ Nothing does this better than the actual words written by the people who were there. Anthologies like The Confederate Homefront allow us to hear the voices of the past whispering in our ear.”—Civil War Times

Marc-Antoine Caillot and the Company of the Indies in Louisiana: Trade in the French Atlantic World  by Erin M. Greenwald

“In this welcome addition to the historiography of the early modern Atlantic world, Erin Greenwald sheds new light upon a crucial, though under-studied, period in the history of French colonial Louisiana. . .”—Journal of Historical Geography


27
Oct 17

LSU Press at the Louisiana Book Festival

IndexSlider1_2017Don’t forget to come downtown for the 2017 Louisiana Book Festival! Below is a guide to panels featuring LSU Press Authors.

10:45 – 11:30

Reptiles and Ampibians of Louisiana with authors Boundy and Carr at the Capitol Park Museum, 1st floor meeting room

11:00 -11:30

Girl After Girl After Girl poet Nicole Cooley with Peter Cooley at the State Library, 5th floor, Capitol View room

11:15 – 11:45

Stepdaughters of History author Catherine Clinton at the Capitol Park Museum, 3rd floor exhibit hall

11:15 – 12:00

Brian Costello and Jennifer Atkins on Mardi Gras in Louisiana at the Capitol Park Museum, 1st floor auditorium

1:00 – 1:45

Richard Campanella, author of Cityscapes of New Orleans at the State Capitol Building, House Committee room 6

1:00 – 1:45

Cemeteries of New Orleans author Peter Dedek at the Capitol Park Museum, 1st floor auditorium

2:00 – 2:45

Images of Depression-Era Louisiana co-author Maria Hebert-Leiter  at the State Capitol Building, House Committee room 6

2:00 – 2:45

Neon Visions author Brannon Costello at the State Capitol Building, House Committee room 5

2:30 – 3:15

Lisa Hinrichsen leads contributors on a panel for Small Screen Souths at State Capitol Building, House Committee room 3

3:15 – 4:00

Fonville Winans’ Cookbook authors Cindy Nobles and Melinda Winans will be at the Cooking Demonstration


20
Oct 17

Writing Hood’s Texas Brigade: Books on Civil War Soldiers and Families

Over the last fifteen years, historians have increased their focus on the indelible link between Civil War military units and their families and home communities. This connection played a defining role in soldiers’ decisions to volunteer, to continue or abandon their military service, and veterans’ ability to adapt to postwar life. While historians have recognized the influence of regional and cultural traditions, class, and age in shaping enlistment or desertion patterns, it is only recently that scholars have come to appreciate the significance of Civil War units as communities in their own right that reflected the values of the families and towns in which they were raised and to which many of them returned.

As a war and society scholar by training, my research and writing were first influenced by this new approach to Civil War unit histories about ten years ago. Early drafts of my book Hood’s Texas Brigade: The Soldiers and Families of the Confederacy’s Most Celebrated Unit focused on traditional questions of military service: Why did these men volunteer? Why did they continue to serve? What drew them to this unit? What motivated them in combat? What made this such an elite brigade? How did the war change these men? I came to realize, though, that while I was studying the men in battle, in camp, and on campaign, they focused instead on events at home. They worried about their wives managing their farm, the diseases that plagued their children and livestock, and economic devastation that could follow poor crops and worse weather. Texas Brigade soldiers certainly discussed the war and what it meant to them, their families, and their communities. They struggled to describe the horrors of a battlefield and the fear and exhilaration combat inspired. But this was only a part of their wartime experience. To capture the full picture, I realized that I had to study their families and home communities too. Not just their socio-economic backgrounds, but rather the familial and community connections that I saw reflected in their companies, regiments, and brigade. I noticed references to men on neighboring farms in letters home, and how casualty lists often predicted long term economic as well as personal hardships for entire communities. Only by incorporating these issues could I understand the Texas Brigade’s full experience in the Civil War.


Seeking the help of other scholars, I turned most often to these books (and sometimes to conversations with manuscripts in progress) while writing Hood’s Texas Brigade:

Ward Hubbs’ Guarding Greensboro: A Confederate Company in the Making of a Southern Community (University of Georgia Press, 2003) and Richard M. Reid’s Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina’s Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2008). Ward Hubbs and Richard Reid were models of the argument that, when analyzing a Civil War unit, scholars must examine soldiers and their home communities as one entity. Companies and regiments become their own communities, but their families constantly pulled on them, supported them, and inspired them. A volunteer’s civilian roots, Reid and Hubbs remind us, could infect soldiers with petty grievances, but they also offered a much-needed support structure and could inspire a tremendous willingness to sacrifice.

Lesley J. Gordon’s A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2014) examines a unit known during the war for their failures rather than their successes. But through the veterans’ and their families’ efforts to reclaim their honor and redefine their service, a broken unit became a celebrated regiment.

In Shades of Green: Irish Regiments, American Soldiers, and Local Communities in the Civil War Era (Fordham University Press, 2017), Ryan W. Keating rightly argues that it was connections to soldiers’ home communities, more than their ethnic traditions, that proved their strongest motivating influence.

In General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse (Free Press, 2008), Joseph T. Glatthaar analyzes the socio-economic influences, political connections, and relationships between officers and men that helped make the Army of Northern Virginia so successful but that also sowed the seeds of its defeat.

These works influenced my conclusion that when we study Civil War soldiers’ military service, it’s not just their service that we need to understand. Units raised from neighborhoods and small towns were reflections of their families and the entire community. When regiments were celebrated or castigated in the press or long after the war, so too were the families and communities from which they came. Sweeping studies of Civil War soldier service and motivation like James McPherson’s For Cause and Comrades or Kenneth Noe’s Reluctant Rebels were path breaking, but historians are right to now argue that service in specific units and a man’s home community could have just as much influence on a soldier’s wartime behavior than the more commonly studied factors of age and socio-economic background.

In the Texas Brigade, for example, men volunteered to serve over a thousand miles from home despite the fact they could have fought much closer to their homes without dishonor. They returned to their brigade after capture or wounds despite the unusually high casualty rates their regiments suffered, and they made these dangerous decisions when desertion rates in the army overall were rising. The officers and men of the Texas Brigade expected much from each other and gave much to each other, they came from families who were able to sustain that level of sacrifice. These men returned to communities where the brigade’s veterans and families continued to support one another long after the war ended. They remind us that this new approach to writing unit histories — which examines the interconnected experiences of soldiers, families, and home communities — is essential to more fully understanding the Civil War generation.


Susannah J. Ural, Ph.D. is author of the forthcoming Hood’s Texas Brigade: The Soldiers and Families of the Confederacy’s Most Celebrated Unit with LSU Press. She is professor of history and co-director of the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Buy Hood’s Texas Brigade today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


13
Oct 17

Writing Girl after Girl after Girl: Women Poets, Permission and Risk

The poet Lucille Clifton once said that with her poetry, “I hope to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” When I wrote the poems in my new book Girl after Girl after Girl, I thought often of Clifton’s words. In fact, I wrote them on an index card and taped it on the wall above my desk.

I love Clifton’s quote because it speaks to both poetry’s intimacy and the work it can do in the world. Here, Lucille Clifton explains most accurately why I both write and read poetry.

In my new book Girl after Girl after Girl, I was writing about being a daughter in the 70s and 80s, about my own daughters, about raising young girls in the dangerous world in which we live. I was writing about female bodies, and the damage the world inflicts upon them. I was afraid of much of what I wrote in my first drafts of poems: stories of addiction, stories of violence, stories of fear and danger.  I kept Clifton’s words close as I worked.

And then one day as I struggled through the poems in my new book, I recalled Emily Dickinson’s famous dictum—“Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”  I wrote those words beside Clifton’s above my desk.  To “tell it slant,” as Dickinson suggested, I turned to objects to tell the stories of mothers and daughters and girlhood—I read books of recipes, I visited doll and miniature museums, I studied the history of the breast pump, the cocktail, the mourning dress.

In different ways, Clifton and Dickinson gave me permission to write my poems. And as I read and reread their words and wrote my own poems, I also I remembered my second daughter, and how when she was younger and I left the house to give reading, she would stand at the front door, face pressed to the glass panes, as I closed the door between us, and shout, “Don’t go to poetry!” It was heartbreaking to leave her, but it also struck me that her exhortation also gave me a way to think about poetry.

My daughter was right. Poetry is a place I go. Sometimes it’s a deep, cold river where I sink down in darkness alone. Sometimes it’s a site of solace, more interior, a quiet and safe room, and a reminder that others have felt as I have felt. Sometimes it’s a geographical journey—I travel with Muriel Rukeyser to Gauley Bridge, West Virginia or with CD Wright to Angola Prison. I read poems both to come closer to myself and to enter a whole new world.

Most of all, I read poems that give me permission to take a risk, poems that make me wonder, How did she do that? She is not supposed to be able to do that! I want to learn to do that!

So sometimes, in search of poets who give me permission to take risks, I go out with a poetry book as I would with a new friend. I take a collection of poems out for coffee and spend a few hours with the book. The book and I sit together and I write in my notebook and we talk.

I have taken many books out for coffee, and I look to many women poets as guides to poetry. Here, below are six books of permission and risk that I have taken out for conversation many times, six books that I kept—and keep—on my desk as I wrote my poems in Girl after Girl after Girl, six books that I return to again and again.


Anya Krugovoy Silver, From Nothing (LSU Press, 2016). From Nothing is a book that illustrates to me how poetry takes you both from yourself and back into yourself all at once. These poems document the experience of life-threatening illness and the deep love of a mother for a son; these poems elegize dead and dying friends. And they show us the magical worlds of fairy tales and the rituals of Lent and prayer that sustain us. I love the fearlessness of Silver’s book.

CD Wright, One Big Self (Copper Canyon Press, 2013). CD Wright was my first poetry teacher in college, at Brown University. Two years ago, with time off from teaching, I spent days walking around my town listening to her read from One Big Self (on the Penn Sound Archive) and soaking up the poems in this book. She shows us new worlds—the landscape of southern Louisiana and the lives of prison inmates and their families. CD Wright died suddenly last year, and now I return again and again to the book to remember her.

Lucille Clifton, The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 (Boa Editions, 2015). I may be cheating by including a poet’s Collected Poems here, but when it comes to Lucille Clifton I can’t help myself. Clifton’s poems offer, in my mind, the ultimate permission to writing about the things in the world that most compelled me while I wrote the poems in Girl after Girl after Girl and that most compel me now—the female body, mothers and daughters, race and identity, religion and place.

Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry (Paris Press, 1996). Muriel Rukeyser published so much, in so many genres, and her life spanned the twentieth century, but I love this book most. The Life of Poetry is a book that teaches us how to live in and with poetry. Muriel Rukeyser is my favorite poet and most of all my poetry-mother. I teach her poems, I read them nearly every day, and I keep them close to me. As she says in this book, “For the last time here, I wish to say that we will not be saved by poetry. But poetry is the type of the creation in which we may live and which will save us.”

Solmaz Sharif, Look (Graywolf Press, 2016). Often, I can’t separate out what I read from what I teach, and I have taught this amazing book twice in the past year. Look is a collection that makes me think differently about history, language and what poetry can do. Sharif uses a Defense Department Dictionary as a text that splits open and refashions again and again to show the horrors of war, the devastation of the Middle East, and the violence we do to one another’s bodies.

Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons: Objects, Food, Rooms (City Lights Publishers, 2014). I chose one of the epigraphs to Girl after Girl after Girl from this book, originally published in 1914, because Stein revolutionized the way I think about language. In Tender Buttons, Stein gives us portraits of ordinary things. Coffee. Milk. Beads. Dresses. Every time I read it I wish I could go to a yard sale with Gertrude Stein and talk about objects.  Stein shows us the magic of the things around us that we take for granted.


Nicole Cooley. Credit: Lisa KollbergNicole Cooley is the author of Breach, Milk Dress, The Afflicted Girls, and Resurrection. A native of New Orleans, Cooley directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College–CUNY, where she is a professor of English.

Buy your copy of Girl after Girl after Girl today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


06
Oct 17

Six Cookbooks that Capture Louisiana’s Unique Flavor

There’s a cornucopia of Louisiana cookbooks out there. Some, like The Fonville Winans Cookbook, the one I co-authored with Melinda Winans, not only have good recipes, but they give the cook an overall idea of what makes the cuisine of south Louisiana so unique.

I’ve been a food writer for the Newcomb College Culinary Writers Group and the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Advocate newspapers, and I’m currently editor of the LSU Press cookbook series “The Southern Table.” I thumb through a lot of cookbooks, and I’m always amazed at how much I learn from those mouthwatering pages. Remarkably, in this digital age, readers still find physical cookbooks entertaining. I, for instance, am the type who’d rather get lost in a cookbook at night instead of a novel. I like turning a page to find someone’s family’s favorite soup, or a new chef’s innovative desserts. There’s also something about a clever recipe title or a heartwarming header that is, well, exciting.

While with the Newcomb group, we were writing a scholarly book on food, and I was instructed to scour that institution’s massive cookbook library for my research. Wow! I was in heaven. At my fingertips were copies of some of the first cookbooks published in Louisiana. From them, I figured out how gumbo evolved over the years, how calves foot jelly was once popular, and that now-hip quenelles, egg-like shapes of forcemeat, were common on nineteenth-century New Orleans tables. All it took was a little detective work, and I had the basis for my work. It was also at this time that I realized that the popular cookbooks of bygone eras had two things in common: their recipes were relatively easy to make, and reading them made you want to rush out to your stove. Both of these distinctions still separate extraordinary cookbooks from the rest.

I met Melinda Winans at an Herb Society meeting in Baton Rouge, and we instantly connected based on one thing—we both love everything about food. Like me, she has an extensive home cookbook library, where there are books she turns to time and time again. Also, her late father-in-law, the internationally famous photographer, Fonville Winans, liked to cook, and he wrote down a mountain of his recipes. One day while browsing through Fonville’s scribbles, we realized we were not only reading a cherished family keepsake, but we had the foundation for an outstanding cookbook.

To make things interesting and to put things in perspective, we made The Fonville Winans Cookbook a compilation of recipes, his photographs, and his biography. He spent most of his youth in Texas, and is most famous for his photographs of the impoverished Depression-era Cajuns who lived on Grand Isle on Louisiana’s coast. During those years, when he was in his early twenties, he became good friends with many of his subjects, and they taught him how to cook what became his favorite cuisine, Cajun.

Fonville later settled in Baton Rouge, where he raised a family, became a sought-after portrait photographer, an inventor, and a pilot. He was also a cook who incessantly experimented. And it is from the many, many versions of his recipes that we get a glimpse of what families were eating in mid-century south Louisiana.Fonville adored both Creole and Cajun food, but his natural curiosity led him to experiment with cuisines such as Mexican and Chinese, creating dishes that were mostly unheard of in the region at the time. His notes tell us that he studied cookbooks, too. He was especially enamored of a book called The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller. In our cookbook, we include many of Fonville’s interpretations of what was, for him, exotic fare. These creations give insight into a man who was definitely ahead of his time, and who was often credited with introducing many new dishes to the Baton Rouge mainstream.

This brings us back to the question of what makes a cookbook exceptional. To me and Melinda, any cookbook tells a story. But many, such as the ones listed below, are encyclopedic, not so much for their girth, but for what their recipes tell us. Importantly, they give a broad spectrum of what folks in Louisiana think is good food. Most of those recipes have a history, some that can be traced back hundreds of years. These recipes also work in a home kitchen and, above all, our modern palates think they still taste great. Once you start reading through them, you’ll pick up on recipe titles, ingredients, and cooking techniques that are found nowhere else. Like The Fonville Winans Cookbook, they capture the local food experience, and any meal made from them would put something authentically Louisiana on the table.


Six Cookbooks that Explain Louisiana’s Unique Flavor:

River Road Recipes: The Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine (The Cookbook Marketplace,1950) – This “textbook of Louisiana cooking” was published by the Junior League of Baton Rouge, and has sold over 1.3 million copies. Recipes were contributed by home cooks and run the gamut from roux to courtbouillon to the now-world-famous Spinach Madeleine.

The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine (Chef John Folse & Company Publishing, 2004) – This is the first of Chef John Folse’s gigantic cookbooks. Along with a healthy dose of culinary history, he includes 700 recipes for cooking traditional south Louisiana cuisine.

Cooking up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans (Chronicle Books, 2015) – In 2005, Hurricane Katrina washed away many a recipe collection. Times-Picayune food editor Judy Walker and food writer Marcelle Bienvenu came to the rescue with this cookbook based on treasured local favorites.

Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1984) – Chef Paul Prudhomme shook up traditional New Orleans Creole cooking with his down-home, rustic Cajun cooking. This cookbook is classic Cajun.

A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook: Recipes from Ignatius J. Reilly’s New Orleans (LSU Press, 2015) – Cynthia LeJeune Nobles turned the food found in John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel into a cookbook that reflects what was popular on tables in New Orleans in the 1950s and 1960s, before south Louisiana cooking was all the rage.

Lift Your Spirits: A Celebratory History of Cocktail Culture in New Orleans (LSU Press, 2016) – Elizabeth Williams, Director of the Southern Beverage Museum, and Chris McMillian, co-founder of Museum of the American Cocktail, teamed up to write a detailed history of New Orleans’s varied cocktails. Authentic recipes are included. If you’re interested in cocktails, this book is a must.


Cynthia LeJeune Nobles, series editor for “The Southern Table” from LSU Press, is the author of A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook: Recipes from Ignatius J. Reilly’s New Orleans (LSU Press, 2015) and The Delta Queen Cookbook: The History and Recipes of the Legendary Steamboat (LSU Press, 2012).

With Melinda Risch Winans, Nobles co-authored The Fonville Winans Cookbook, which was published by LSU Press earlier this week. You can read more about their cookbook in The Advocate and SIBA News. Take 30% off select Louisiana titles, including this one, during the month of October with offer code 04LBF! Buy your copy while it’s still hot off the press by clicking here.

Don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!


02
Oct 17

September Roundup: News, Events, Reviews

September was quite a month here at LSU Press! Blood Work: Imagining Race in American Literature, 1890—1940 by Shawn Salvant won 2016 C. Hugh Holman Award; Galaxie Wagon: Poems by Darnell Arnoult won the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing; and Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge won both a Certificate of Merit from the Association of Recorded Sound Collections Awards and the 2017 Blues Book of the Year from Living Blues magazine. Lee Upton, Kathryn Fontenot and Trent Brown wrote fantastic posts for the LSU Press Blog. And we published new books by Jennifer Atkins, Trent Brown, Nicole Cooley, Kathryn Fontenot, Earl J. Hess, and Gordon C. Rhea.

Below you’ll find a list of our October titles, upcoming events with our authors, and some selected publicity from September. And if you want to keep up with LSU Press in real time, follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.


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Selected Publicity and Praise

Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems, 1997-2015 by Bruce Bond

Blackout Starlight is a milestone release. . . One can certainly read Bond for the sheer delight of beholding a thing well done. Fellow poets, however, will benefit from a deep consideration of his ambition, vision, and delivery.”—Colorado Review

Girl after Girl after Girl: Poems by Nicole Cooley

“. . . this collection, her fifth, is attempting something special in its unconditional study of mothers, daughters, and sisters—of all ages. That she employs time travel in her poems is impossible to explain, so we’ll just enjoy the experience.”—Foreword Reviews

The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History by Peter B. Dedek

“Four stars. . . . An excellent primer on some of our city’s most important cultural treasures.”—New Orleans Magazine

Black Labor, White Sugar: Caribbean Braceros and Their Struggle for Power in the Cuban Sugar Industry by Philip A. Howard

Howard makes some of the strongest arguments for the development of a black class consciousness that crossed ethnic lines.”—World Sugar History Newsletter

Schooling in the Antebellum South: The Rise of Public and Private Education in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama by Sarah L. Hyde

“. . . Sarah Hyde treats us to a long-due examination of white education in the antebellum South.”—The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

The Language of Vision: Photography and Southern Literature in the 1930s and After by Joseph R. Millichap

“His purposes in this slim volume are synthetic and, in the best sense of the word, provocative: to bring together two rich artistic and critical traditions in ways that demonstrate the mutually enlivening creative interplay at work, and that inspire further investigation.”—Modernism/Modernity

William & Mary commissioned a poem from Brenda Marie Osbey. You can watch her performance here:

Damn Yankees! Demonization and Defiance during the American Civil War by George C. Rable

“Award-winning Professor Emeritus George C. Rable has once again added to the historiography of the Civil War with his outstanding Damn Yankees! Demonization and Defiance during the American Civil War. . .”—H-War

On to Petersburg: Grant and Lee, June 4-15, 1864 by Gordon C. Rhea

“Unparalleled. . . .”—New York Journal of Books

From Nothing: Poems by Anya Krugovoy Silver

“In these poems, bracing honesty coincides with the quiet transformations of language. Especially moving are the expressions of praise that take shape in the absence of consolation.”—The Cresset Journal

The Richmond Times-Dispatch published an article on Ron Smith’s poetry.

Extreme Civil War: Guerrilla Warfare, Environment, and Race on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier by Matthew M. Stith

“Stith has researched his subject well and produced an engaging and well-balanced book. It deserves the attention of all Civil War historians.”—Kansas History