This collection of humorous and satiric verse takes its title from that thoroughly southern term meaning "irreverent retort," "ironic remark," or "scoffing observation." The ancient Roman poet Juvenal noted that his world made it hard not to write satire. Fred Chappell, finding his contemporary era analogous to that of imperial Rome, has in Backsass given in to the impulse for invective and mockery. The satirist's final aim is to improve the moral tenor of society, and he or she approaches this goal by first causing us to laugh at ourselves. Brandishing his lexical sword, Chappell ribs our shortcomings, offers tonic advice, and occasionally sheds a tear for our fallen ideals. Some poetry is fine wine. Backsass is the driest of martinis.
Fred Chappell is the author of twenty-six books of poetry, fiction, and critical commentary. His most recent collection was Shadow Box. A native of Canton in the mountains of western North Carolina, he taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro from 1964 to 2004 and was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997 to 2002. He and his wife, Susan, live in Greensboro.
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