Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place Features Poems Inspired by Kentucky
Author, activist, feminist, teacher, and artist bell hooks is celebrated as one of the nation's leading intellectuals. Famous for her provocative and political writings on gender, social justice, and sustainability, hooks has written more than thirty books in her career. For the first time, hooks offers her social commentary in a New Medium of creative expression: poetry.
In Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place, hooks explores life's harsh realities in a book of poems inspired by her childhood in the isolated hills and hidden hollows of Kentucky. As part of the University Press of Kentucky's Kentucky Voices series, Appalachian Elegy offers a fresh perspective on past and current issues in the state. Using the land, people, and history of the Appalachian region as subject matter, hooks's poems follow the process of mourning a Kentucky landscape that has been ravaged by pollution and social injustice. The process of environmental desecration is starkly portrayed in one poem, where hooks writes: "outsiders come / taking land / taking life / stripping removing destroying / mountains ravaged / leaving in this corrupt wake / souls grieving."
The book's introduction provides a glimpse into hooks's life as a child growing up in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She describes her fascination with nature as a young girl and the freedom she found while exploring the backwoods of her childhood home. With images of tobacco fields, weatherworn barns, and steep mountain paths, the poems highlight themes of environmentalism and sustainability. hooks connects these images to other social issues, painting us vivid pictures of greed, racial hatred, and a violent history. Through her poetry, hooks entreats readers to remember and mourn Kentuckians whom history has forgotten and gives a voice to the voiceless rural African Americans of the region.