The Dirty Side of the Storm

The Dirty Side of the Storm

by Martha Serpas
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

"At once a love song and a dirge to a landscape being swallowed by the waters that define it."—St. Petersburg Times
An evocative meditation on destruction and creation, the sacred and ephemeral, along Louisiana's coast. In poems that bear witness to the eroding bayou country and its Cajun culture, Martha Serpas venerates a vanishing landscape defined by

Overview

"At once a love song and a dirge to a landscape being swallowed by the waters that define it."—St. Petersburg Times
An evocative meditation on destruction and creation, the sacred and ephemeral, along Louisiana's coast. In poems that bear witness to the eroding bayou country and its Cajun culture, Martha Serpas venerates a vanishing landscape defined by water—sensuous, fecund, and destructive. As marsh turns into gulf, identity and consciousness are transformed as well. Serpas's verses invest paradox with her own defiantly spiritual meaning.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Gulf Coast and especially the Louisiana bayous, with their marsh grass, generations of fishermen, well-known natural disasters and ever-present coastal erosion, give Serpas's second volume both its strong flavor and its dominant subjects. Generations of Cajuns view "the steady vanishing/ Of your birthplace before your eyes," but also the beauty of "a blue heron lifting from brown stubble/ Light off bleached barnacles, helicopter blades// Beating the marsh into submission." Some poems take names from local landmarks ("Bayou Lafource," "Bully Camp Road"), others from general truths ("Faith in Florida"), but almost all respond to the southeastern coast, extending from Houston (where Serpas once lived) to Tampa (where she teaches now), from the dilapidation of "The Boat Shed" to "A pink-taffeta-ball-gown-and-bourbon/ sky." Curtains of descriptive lushness gather, then part, to reveal human vulnerability or human affection in Serpas's carefully clarified unrhymed stanzas. Explorations of Christian tradition and belief form an undercurrent throughout Serpas's work: "corrupted flesh confirms our/ Deepest knowledge," even though "the land wants the water,/ to be the water, to forget." Though Serpas (Cote Blanche, 2002) finished all but one of these poems before Katrina, the shadow of hurricane, flood and subsequent carnage falls over these Louisiana laments. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Serpas's (Côte Blanche) pre-Hurricane Katrina poems detail the destruction to the ecosystem of the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary south of New Orleans. The dirty side of the system, the eastern side, receives the brunt of the storm's damage, and strong imagery and spirituality infuse discussion of this fragile landscape. The poems and settings are defined by water, which swallows both marsh and identity and redefines the borders between. Serpas bears witness to changing nature and nature's subsequent changing of humans: "Rain on the water's vinyl surface:/water that glitters,/water that hardly moves,/its branches witness to trees,/to fronds, leaves, crab floats, pilings,/ shopping carts, appliances-/the divine earth takes everything/in its wounded side/ and gives back wholeness." Using language that is local, sensuous, and precise, these narrative lyrics consider the storm's destruction and the possibilities of redemption within the frame of religious spirituality. While these are not religious poems per se, each is a manifestation of the divine in devastation. Highly recommended for general poetry collections.
—Karla Huston

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393331431
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/28/2008
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Martha Serpasis a native of Galliano, Louisiana. She is currently an associate professor of English at University of Houston. Her previous collection of poems is called Côte Blanche.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >