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...



Nor the strip of light between the slats, the window itself blind with grief. Nor the bench where the last mourner lingers, the

A man git his feet set in a sticky mudbank,
A man git dis yellow water in his blood,
No need for hopin', no need for doin',
Muddy streams keep him fixed for good.

Little Muddy, Big Muddy, Moreau and Osage,
Little Mary's, Big Mary's, Cedar Creek,
Flood deir muddy water roundabout a man's roots,
Keep him soaked
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