While sifting through trash in her flooded New Orleans home, Ruth Salvaggio discovered an old volume of Sappho’s poetry stained with muck and mold. In her efforts to restore the book, Salvaggio realized that the process reflected how Sappho’s own words were unearthed from the refuse of the ancient world. Undertaking such a task in New Orleans, she sets out to recover the city’s rich poetic heritage while searching through its flooded debris.
Advance Praise for Hearing Sappho in New Orleans
“A tour de force of intertextual scholarship that ranges from Sappho and Sidney Bechet to the Bambara and Yeats and Wheatley, this book combines the best of both worlds—an intimate, thoughtful analysis of the disastrous flooding of New Orleans with a perceptive critical account of how the lyric voice reflects and refracts desire. A lovely, lovely book!”—Barbara C. Ewell, co-editor of Southern Local Color: Stories of Region, Race, and Gender
“A tearing scream of pain, loss, and eternal love, joy and hope for the world’s unique culture treasure New Orleans.”—Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, author of Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century
“Plumbing the ruins of ‘deep time’ in the receding waters of Katrina, Ruth Salvaggio recovers the lyric voice of New Orleans in the fragments—literal and figurative—of Sappho. That voice—haunting, wounded, urgent, and unforgettable—sings in many tongues to make herself heard. Any reader who loves the poetry of loss and reappearance should listen.”—Joseph Roach, author of Cities of the Dead
“This is a masterpiece, and one to which I will often return.”—Margaret Randall, author of First Laugh and Ruins
“Salvaggio’s extraordinary book documents the perseverance of the lyric, and of the people through it, in New Orleans and beyond.”—Eric Porter, author of What Is This Thing Called Jazz?: African American Musicians as Artists, Critics, and Activists
“A daring, brilliantly written work that will stand as a classic portrait of New Orleans. The book is an unforgettable read that truly touches the heart.”—William Ferris, author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
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