Appalachian poet, musician, and raconteur Kirk Judd has a new book and CD package out, "My People Was Music." I thought I'd share part of a Goodreads review I did of the book - I think members of The Read would enjoy this.
There is no gussying-up here. This is the plain hard rock undergirding Appalachia. This is the sound of water rushing, the clawhammer banjo sound, the crack of a wedge as it splits that cross-grained stump of oak. Kirk Judd has been making poems for a long time, but like a pine knotted onto the windswept cliff, he keeps his roots solidly in the earth of his native land.
"What you do is
if you are comin' West on 60
and you run outta gas on top of Gauley Mountain
you just don't hit your brakes
and if you catch all the lights right
well where you stop rollin'
why that's Charleston."
from "Visitin' Charleston (for a poetry reading)"
Appalachian lives braid together like streams of water – running apart, coming together – so with Kirk Judd, whom I knew for many years in West Virginia, first as part of the West Virginia Writers annual conference, then as a writer we published in a new literary and art journal, Kestrel. Just so with Kirk’s new book, a compilation of works familiar and unfamiliar, with an extra helping of a CD so that we can hear what has made him a popular performer over the years – plain words spoken plainly with an Appalachian twang, and music that rises out of the same hills and hollers.
is my heart
in these beeches
spared the saw.
is my soft flesh
sunken into this hemlock
so long fallen
the rock has formed around it."
from "Cold Run"
Don't come here looking for just traditional rhymes, though you'll find ballads. Or cutting-edge experimentation, though you'll find some of that, too. Crack this book to find poems rising out of a lived life - love and raw loss, dancing and mourning.