Since 1964, when Louisiana State University Press published its inaugural book of verse (Miller Williams’s A Circle of Stone), its poetry list has grown exponentially—191 books by 95 poets—into a program that inspires understandable pride in those associated with it. Two collections have won the Pulitzer Prize—The Flying Change (1986), by Henry Taylor, and Alive Together (1996), by Lisel Mueller. Another book by Mueller, The Need to Hold Still (1980), won the National Book Award, while several other LSU titles have been finalists for that distinction, most recently The Fields of Praise (1997), by Marilyn Nelson. Dozens more have been recognized for their excellence through a host of various honors.
To mark this thirty-five-year-old tradition as the century and millennium turn, and as a sampling of its richness, The Yellow Shoe Poets, a retrospective anthology, was compiled under the editorship of George Garrett, a longtime colleague of the Press and the author of eight poetry volumes. (Say “the LSU poets” real fast with a southern drawl and you get the ridiculously wonderful moniker that poet Elizabeth Seydel Morgan’s young friend innocently mistook for this noble band. It’s an image Brendan Galvin has appropriated to a perfect fit on behalf of his fellow “yellow shoes” across the years.)
All 175 poems are taken from LSU Press books and were selected by the poets themselves, if living. Arranged alphabetically by author, they consist of at least one poem from every poet published by the Press. Goethe’s admonition that “one ought every day at least, to read a good poem” can find no better starting point than in The Yellow Shoe Poets.
Once I thought I was here
to pass my kind on, a link
in the human trek, or to witness
and report the wren's arrival
across Homeric distances.
. . . but
is this what I'm good for, to go
flatfooted through the pineys,
kicking up their ferocious yellow dust?
—from “Yellow Shoe Poet” by Brendan Galvin
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