Mississippi

In August 2016 Governor Phil Bryant named Beth Ann Fennelly as Mississippi’s fifth poet laureate. Fennelly is the author of three collections of poetry: Unmentionables (W. W. Norton, 2008), Tender Hooks (W. W. Norton, 2004), and Open House (Zoo Press, 2002), as well as three books of nonfiction. She will serve a four-year term.

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Mississippi poet laureate

Beth Ann Fennelly

Beth Ann Fennelly is the author of three poetry collections, including Unmentionables (W. W. Norton, 2008). She currently serves as Mississippi's...

poems

poem
Through wild and tangled forests
   The broad, unhasting river flows—
   Spotted with rain-drops, gray with night;
     Upon its curving breast there goes
A lonely steamboat's larboard light,
       A blood-red star against the shadowy oaks;
Noiseless as a ghost, through greenish gleam
Of fire-flies, before the
poem
1

    No, I don't know

the way to get there.
    Two empty suitcases sit in the corner,
if that's any kind of clue.

2

    This spring night,

everyone at the party
    younger than me
except for one man.
    We give each other the secret password.

3

    Tears? Of course, but also the
poem

Just this—

When they were my sons
I would pull the covers up
around their ears
and tuck them in,
smooth their hair,
kiss their salty eyelids.
Now gingko leaves
make golden blankets
around the tombstone
of a boy from Iowa
and another I can’t read,
and