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South of Here
Lydia Melvin

First Book

New Issues Poetry & Prose
2005 • 67 pp. 6 x 8 1/2"

$14.00 Paperback, 978-1-930974-57-9

“We grow up hearing the adage that “History is told by the victors”—the notion that those in power possess jurisdiction over our shared story... [continued in Reviews below]”—Melanie Drane, ForeWord Reviews

Reviews / Endorsements

“We grow up hearing the adage that “History is told by the victors”—the notion that those in power possess jurisdiction over our shared story. In authorized versions of history, the prevailing orthodoxy decides whose lives were meaningful, while others are erased. Yet as long as 2000 years ago, when classical Chinese poets were writing from exile, poetry has often defied the official versions of events. To speak aloud about the subjects and people edited from collective memory constitutes an act of revolt. In this debut book, the poet joins the rebel tradition. A former Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at UW-Madison, Melvin is currently a PhD candidate in English at SUNY-Binghamton, and completing her MA in African American Studies. She is a fierce and lyrical record-keeper—a poet who performs a meticulous forensic accounting, and then registers in dark ink what is missing from the official ledgers. Here, the re-collection of memory is at once tender and ferocious. A vigilant observer, Melvin waits in the shadows of lost and stolen time, to name what she sees there: from her own mother, born to a housekeeper in 1939 on her employer’s 'eggshell-white kitchen floor'; to Marty Joe, a first love who phones to 'promise [he’d] be back in jail soon, back to one call a week.'”—Melanie Drane, ForeWord Reviews

“Lydia Melvin writes with the wildness that only truth knows—without fear—poetry that digs and digs hard into everything that ever was. Here, words have a way of exploding to discover new territories about childhood and adolescence. This is because Lydia knows that a poem is not a poem unless it discovers the poet’s inside, unless it discovers the possibilities inside itself, something that this book does over and over. In these poems, history stands at a cross-limb, where Lydia tells us that 'my mother enters the world on an eggshell-white / kitchen floor' and where 'the earth pauses / to take notice, decides finally it will love my mother / two-and-a-half minutes more than the rest of the world.' For Lydia, poetry is about everything—love, family, hate, the forbidden—everything. This book gives a new voice to poetry with the wildness of fire, with the wildness that only words can know.”—Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

LYDIA MELVIN (METTA SAMA) received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Western Michigan University and her Ph.D. in English with an emphasis in creative writing at SUNY – Binghamton. Her poems have appeared in Cream City Review, Diner, Crab Orchard, Shade, Paterson Literary Review, Prairie Schooner and Verse, among others. She is a former Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and teaches in the English Department at DePauw University.

Sat, 2 Dec 2017 12:22:02 -0500