Wednesday, April 16, 2014

National Poetry Month: Week 3

For the third week of our National Poetry Month showcase, Frank X Walker shares the poem "Ambiguity Over the Confederate Flag" from his book, TURN ME LOOSE (2013, pg. 4).

                  Ambiguity Over the Confederate Flag

                   In the old south        life was full of work
  we would sit on the veranda       from sunup to sundown

  look out over the horizon at       nothing but fields of cotton

                           the young       children
   who happily played behind       tried to pick their own weight

              while their mothers       by age 13 filled 500 lb sacks
      sang rapturous spirituals       and lived the blues

     those were good ol' days       for plantation owners
   not having to use the whip       sharecropping and extending debt
              was more civilized       was almost more profitable

                                   than slavery

About the Poem
This poem is a contrapuntal that can be read three different ways. It sets the stage for the dialogue that occurs throughout the book and reflects the intentional structure of the book that is reflected in the oppositional dynamics of the two songs "Dixie" and "Strange Fruit."

About the Poet
Frank X Walker is the 2013-2014 poet laureate of Kentucky. He is an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky and the editor of Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. A Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry recipient, he is the author of five collections of poetry, including Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, which won the Lillian Smith Book Award, and Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride.

For more information about National Poetry month, visit For more poetry from the UGA Press, visit the poetry section of our website here.