Alison Pelegrin is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Waterlines with Louisiana State University Press. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Division of the Arts and her poems appear in The Southern Review, The Cincinnati Review, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. She teaches English at Southeastern Louisiana University.
11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
State Library of Louisiana, Capitol View Room
Louisiana Poets, Part I
Noon to 12:45 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
In Waterlines, Louisiana native Alison Pelegrin gives us poems that describe the terrible power of nature even as they underscore the state’s beauty. The poet moves from the familiar gaudy delights of life in New Orleans to immerse the reader in the vastly different experience of living north of Lake Pont-chartrain. In this fractured world, the Bogue Falaya River becomes a highway paved with benedictions, psalms, and praise for ordinary things, as Pelegrin searches the unfamiliar for an incarnation of home.
Water—the threat of hurricanes and floods, as well as the tangled geographies and histories of the rivers and lakes themselves—sustains the poet as she settles into the casual beauty of “the daily route,” finding spiritual depth and delight in both human and natural wonders.
In another life, in Japan, I could write
that I have begun the descent down Mt. Fuji,
only to find that snow is the same on both sides.
Here, I’m bound to heat and words of water,
because even as the world loosens its hold
on me, the rivers are slow to release.
What else is worth saying?
The days wind down, I drag my hand
through the moon’s golden scribble
on the river.
I’m amazed yet again by frog song
and snowfall stars, but there’s no more changing
the words inked on my paper boat.
—from “Bogue Falaya Death Barge”
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