Black Lawrence Press is known for publishing cutting-edge poetry and fiction in a style that is all their own. Acadiana is a chapbook of poetry by Nancy Reddy. Reddy is the author of Double Jinx (Milkweed Editions, 2015), a 2014 winner of the National Poetry Series. She teaches writing at Stockton University in southern New Jersey.
Growing up in the north the view I had of Acadiana which mostly came from popular music. “Amos Moses” and “The Legend of the Wooley Swamp” come to mind immediately. As an adult who migrated to Texas almost thirty years ago, I can say my most interesting travel stories are about Lousiana. Stories of Mr. Wilkes, trying to get a company car out of police impound, hand pumping gasoline, and being deep enough in the state that I could not even get AM radio in my car. There is something a different under the surface that you can catch out of the corner of your eye, sometimes.
Although a chapbook Reddy speaks volumes to the reader. The poetry is fairly standard in format but it captures the deepest of the South in a very big way. Surface Catholicism, left over from the French, covers a deep near voodoo topsoil. The words will give a tingle to your spine by the eerieness of the words and phrasing. There is something more to the words than just the words themselves just as there is more to the region than just the land and people.
As the red dog’s fur sends smoke skyward
to whatever gods may still watch over us,
I sprinkle holy water along the fence posts, place
the blessed palms along the shuttered windows
and above the doorframes. I make of matches a cross
and light them quick to stop the rain.
from “Saint Catherine Takes the Auspices”
This is a remarkable collection poetry that is much bigger than its thirty pages. Highly recommended.