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Social History


Southern Messenger Poets

70 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

ebook available


  Paperback / 9780807162040 / March 2016
Bobby C. Rogers’s second collection, Social History, listens hard to the voices of American characters and celebrates the gestures of ordinary life. The long lines of his narrative poems trace the undulations of southern speech, and his careful eye for detail reflects the influence of generations of storytellers, from authors like Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty to Rogers’s own distant family members, living in “decrepit houses where the floors sagged and the front rooms reeked / of snuff, bitter as the smell off a pile of clods beside an open grave, the scent of time that hadn’t succeeded in passing.”
In his beguiling evocations of the past, Rogers looks back with affection to the rhythms and rituals of growing up in small-town Tennessee. While his poems speak of a living connection to community and to the earth, they also acknowledge the growing need to question what we have been taught and to break free and make our own way in this world. Graceful and plainspoken, the poems of Social History bear witness to ways of living that, though past, are never truly lost.
Lost Highway
Body Man
A Book by Its Cover
Abandoned Homesite in a Field
Smokers, Sunday Morning, 1975
Elizabeth Patton, Wife of Davy Crockett
The Principal’s Son
Meditation on Door Slams
The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care
Purple Martin Village
Farm Portrait
Featured Twirler
Regarding Symbols
A Hundred and One Affordable House Plans
I Will Not Talk in Class
Primitive Baptist
Social History
Elegy for George Garrett
All-American Cheerleader Sandi Sentell Stands in Line outside Alumni Gym before a Lecture by Gloria Steinem
Essay on Friendship
His Mark
Old Theater Ticket Found in the Pages of René Char’s Selected Poems
Interesting Case
Spit and Polish
Spring Recital, Beethoven Club, Memphis, Tenn.
Rooms with Radiators
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame Coach Jack Russell Makes a Visit to the Mound
Last Words
Salvage Yard in Mississippi
Girl Flagman on Highway 45
Fourth Grade Field Trip, Elmwood Cemetery
Rain Crow
Second Row at the Ballet
William Eggleston

Bobby C. Rogers is professor of English and writer-in-residence at Union University. His first book, Paper Anniversary, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. He lives in Memphis with his wife, son, and daughter.

Praise for Social History

“There’s an openly Southern quality to these poems: They delight in storytelling and enjoy a deliberate, winding cadence not unlike the Cumberland River slipping its way through our state. It’s rare to find a poet working with such long, elegant lines, and the effect is immediate. Readers fall into the rhythm, hypnotized almost by its steadiness, nodding along at the poet’s insights. . . . Hank Williams couldn’t have sung it better.”—Chapter 16

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