Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book is a blog for people interested in Southern literature, sponsored by booksellers who are members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and featuring the latest literary news and events around the South from Her Ladyship, the Editor.

Blog Archive | Newsletter | Newsletter Archive

Mothers and StrangersMama

My good friend Samia Serageldin took me out to lunch in Chapel Hill, shortly after the death of her powerful and aristocractic Eygptian mother, along with another friend, Margaret Rich, whose own mother, a strong-willed southern matriarch, had just died at the age of one hundred in Greenville, South Carolina. "I have an idea," Samia said in her charming, lilting way. "Let's write a book about our mothers." Immediately we were in. We told other friends the idea, and they were in, too. We were all in. Because somehow we have come to that time in our lives when all the parents are gone, leaving us motherless, or fatherless, or, often now, orphans--suddenly out in the world alone, with nothing to stand between us and well, what? What? It is a time of reckoning. And who was she, that one who gave us birth, surely the most intimate of all physical relationships? Hers was the first face we say, the first voice we heard...surely this is especially important for a writer, how wer first experience language....Who was she to us, or we to her? Who are we now, without her?


--Lee Smith, in Mothers and Strangers, edited by Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith (UNC Press, 2019) 9781469651675

When the warm sun, that brings
Seed-time and harvest, has returned again,
'T is sweet to visit the still wood, where springs
The first flower of the plain.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "An April Day"


April is one of her ladyship, the editor's very favorite months. Her garden has begun to shake off winter and her ladyship's online friends have had to endure an endless series of posts of the daffodils she planted last fall, now in full and glorious bloom.

April is also the one time of year when her ladyship can talk about poetry without apology or compunction. Not that she is wont to do either at other times of the year, but in April, at least, "National Poetry Month" provides an excellent excuse to be blatant about it.

And the South, it must be said, is as fertile ground for poetry as it is for daffodils. Here is a little "tour" of the South via its poets laureate:

Little Wanderer From Darkening Porches To Start With, Feel Fortunate Sabbath Creek
Alabama | Jennifer Horne Arkansas | Jo McDougall Florida | Peter Meinke Georgia | Judson Mitcham
The Bounteous World No Brother, This Storm Heating and Cooling Breath of Song
Kentucky | Frederick Smock Louisiana | Jack Bedell Mississippi |Beth Ann Fennelly North Carolina | Jaki Shelton Green
The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle Gentle Scholar James Dickey Reader  
South Carolina | Marjory Heath Wentworth Tennessee | Margaret Britton Vaughn Virginia | Henry Hart