Mississippi

In 1963, Mississippi established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Beth Ann Fennelly, who was appointed to a four-year term in 2016. Fennelly is the author of three books of poetry, including Unmentionables (W. W. Norton, 2008).

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Beth Ann Fennelly
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

My parents come from a place where all the houses stop
at one story

for the heat. Where every porch—front
and back—simmers in black screens that sieve

mosquitoes from our blood. Where everyone knows
there’s only one kind of tea:

served sweet. The first time my father

poem

1

Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black
faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand-
fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,
cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews.  They stare
across the space at me sprawling on my bunk.  I know
their dark eyes, they
poem
Vicksburg, Mississippi


Here, the Mississippi carved
            its mud-dark path, a graveyard

for skeletons of sunken riverboats.
            Here, the river changed its course,

turning away from the city
            as one turns, forgetting, from the past—

the abandoned bluffs, land sloping up