Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Georgia Poet Sean Hill's Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, Sunday on Cover To Cover

GPB Southern Lit Cadre Poetry Major Domo Jeff Calder reports in on this week's program---

The poet Sean Hill grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia, the setting for his impressive debut collection Blood Ties & Brown Liquor. In forty or so poems he makes up a history of the Wright family who lived in the small town’s African-American community over several generations. It is a dusty narrative dominated by the color red. Titles like “A Negro Teacher’s Bible”, “Joe Chappel’s Foot Long Bottom Blues 1952”, and “The State House Aflame” give a feel for the action stirring on the ground. The seam of “Lineaments Through the Line of Seasons” bursts open with the unexpected moment:

…bare blind nestlings gape and caterpillars
condense, clouding where plum branches fork
and pollen gilds puddles in ribbons after rain
and the dirt dauber shapes her nest from wet clay—
Deep red before it dries, this dirt sunsets distill.

Sean Hill's method is painstaking and artful, as though he were using his fingers to bend shafts of genealogy around a trellis of time and memory. It took three years to put together a construction so authentic one might assume it to be a straightforward rendering of his long family story. There may be some slight resemblance to his Milledgeville relatives, who secretly leaf through the book to find themselves, but the soft-spoken Georgia native is quick to assure me that Blood Ties is largely the work of his imagination.
The book’s cover is a detail from McIntosh Street, a painting by Frank Stanley Herring (1894-1966) that Sean first noticed in a Milledgeville funeral home when his father sent him there on an errand.

In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on June 1, 2008, Amber Dermont wrote that Blood Ties & Brown Liquor “is certain to mark Hill's emergence as a major new voice in American poetry."

--Jeff Calder

You can hear Jeff and Sean Hill's conversation Sunday at 8:00pm on Cover To Cover, right after The Infinite Mind on GPB Radio.