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The Dark Lyricism of Arkansas poet Greg Brownderville
On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with poet Greg Alan Brownderville, who discusses his latest collection, A Horse With Holes in It, published by LSU Press. This collection is interwoven with humor, compelling imagery and dark lyricism.
"I wrote it in a blur, in a psychic state resembling trance, which is appropriate, given that spirit possession is at the heart of the collection. I accepted that it would fail or succeed on its own terms, as a ragged, jagged thing, not as a precious gemstone. If something felt right, even though I couldn’t explain why, I went with it. It is hard for me to remember anything about creating it." --Greg Brownderville
During the episode, Brownderville focuses on a prosimetrum-- a combination of prose and verse-- he wrote titled "Assorted Heads."
This poem describes the mystery of his Pentecostal faith, his relationship with delta lore, including the Mirror Saw--a multiracial secret society in the Delta that practiced a religion and magical arts.
"On the basis of extensive research, I think the Mirror Saw included several elements of religious and magical traditions from Haiti, West Africa, Native American tribes, and Celtic cultures Interestingly, possession was the central rite of both the Mirror Saw and Pentecost, the two marginal sects which participated," --Brownderville
In the poem, "Assorted Heads," Brownderville explores his relationship with Sister Law, a Pentecostal oneness preacher and a Delta folk artist.
She made dolls and sculptures out of found items, she called "the leavings"--meaning the things others left behind. Brownderville explains that to walk into her home was to walk into her imagination.
During one of their visits, Sister Law created a doll of Brownderville and titled it "Yeah Boy."
Brownderville has authored two other poetry collections. His premiere collection, Gust, was released in 2011. This collection made the Poetry Foundation’s Best Seller List and Library Journal’s “Top Picks.” Brownderville published his second collection, Deep Down in the Delta, in 2012.
The 2012 collection focuses on daily life in Brownderville’s hometown of Pumpkin Bend, Arkansas. Brownderville has also been the recipient of fellowships and prizes from Prairie Schooner, The Missouri Review, New Millennium Writings, the Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and the Porter Fund.
He also edits the Southwest Review at Southern Methodist University and teaches poetry workshop. His previous teaching credentials include Ole Miss, Hendrix College, and Lincoln University.
Music for this episode is provided by Greg Brownderville and SherlokK, Bark., Adam Faucett, Detroit Johnny, AmyJo Savannah, and William Blackart.
Listen to "Together We Get Higher" by AmyJo Savannah.
Listen to "Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down" by Bark.
Listen to "Water" by William Blackart
Audio supplement of Greg Brownderville reading the poem "Theater in Wartime"
This program was made possible through a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities and from listeners like you.
Executive Producer & Host: J. Bradley Minnick Producer: Mary Ellen Kubit Recorded by: Christopher HIckey Intern: Krista Hancock Archivist: Shannon Lausch