Louisiana State University Press officially releases today (10/15/13) my new book of poems entitled The Fiddler of Driskill Hill. These are poems set in Louisiana, both north and south, but with themes that are universal. Born in north Louisiana in 1949 (Shreveport), I have lived in south Louisiana since 1971: first in Baton Rouge (1971-77) and then in Thibodaux (1977-present). Both the generally Protestant north and mainly Roman Catholic south are for me familiar and beloved regions of the state.
The poems in Fiddler are all written in traditional poetic forms, often rhyming, are accessible, and are written for the general reader.
I quote below (with permission granted by LSU Press) one poem from this collection: “Hurricane Baby.” As a north Louisianian, I had to learn what this phrase meant after I moved south.
Hurricanes, of course, can be terrible events. Many poems have rightfully been written about the pain, the suffering, and the loss of life and limb and of property and job from Katrina and other strong hurricanes. I myself have written such poems — “After Katrina: Noah’s Raven” (in Fiddler) and “Hurricane” (in my 1999 LSU Press collection. Beyond the Chandeleurs) — but the poem below looks at another side of these often devastating storms.
Some time after I moved to south Louisiana, I was told that when a hurricane comes through and the electricity goes out, young couples, to pass the time, sometimes do what comes naturally, and then, nine months later, there is a “bump” (if that is the best word) in the number of births. These babies are called “hurricane babies.” The short poem below ponders these things.
They lie there in the golden afterglow
Of hurricane and twilight and the slow
Powerless hours through which they’ll stay so still
Till air moves cool past each wet windowsill.
Outside spent gales adrift in sweet release
Blow mild by flattened cane until they cease.
Blue herons high in cypress preen and sleep,
Their hours those primal hours all beings keep.
And with the clocks, A/C, and TV dead,
No light for books, they have the dark instead
In which he turns to touch, then kiss her there
Lost in a gentle storm of flesh and hair.
For any who may be interested:
Ordering Information for The Fiddler of Driskill Hill: Poems (2013) by David Middleton
Order Online from LSU Press: www.lsupress.org
Order by Phone from LSU Press’s Distributor (Longleaf Services): 1-800-848-6224