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
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

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

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