Longleaf is a chapbook of poems deeply rooted in place and the landscape of John Saad’s native coastal Alabama. This wide-ranging and wise collection shows the poet’s bone-deep connection to home that stems from childhood through early adulthood. With finely wrought images and specialized yet lyrical language that recall the best of Rodney Jones and Philip Levine, Saad brings us into his world of the Deep South, where ‘the fumbled light of live oaks’ mingles with ‘the ferrous / howls / of valley dogs.’ In these pages, memories of family are woven with observations of a natural world in constant conversation with civilization and the machines that encroach upon it. Still, Saad’s poems prove that his environment can and will endure, no matter how marked with freeways and ‘smokestacks belching black.’ Windows still give us views of an ‘anvil sky’ dissolving ‘over the purple pulse / of switchgrass,’ and we can―like the guitar he once abandoned on a riverbank―lose ourselves in ‘the cutbank’s slow refrains,’ at last redeemed by ‘the water’s dark applause.’
“A poetics worthy of the pine flatwoods—dappled, multilingual, clairvoyant. John Saad can see things the rest of us can’t see. Let him be our seer then. In skillful distillation—tense, sparse, beautiful—he conjures a whole landscape, a whole culture, a whole life. Reading this poetry is like drinking good cognac.”
—Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
“Saad lifts the language of pith and swole, plumose and dunegrass like whisky shots to steady the nerves against loss. If longleaf pines’ range has been reduced to less than three percent of its once ninety-million-acre range, Longleaf prescribes fire to germinate conscious minds. He cracks open ears with verbs like catface and tipi, off-rhymes “guts those birds” with “turkey oak,” and skins lines down “to the ferrous / howls / of valley dogs / and the plinks / of tin cans.” An understory of characters, from sow hunters to live-nativity actors, serves and subjugates these woods, as bound as the pines to the flames that clarify what the land ordains.”
—Amy Wright, author of Cracker Sonnets and Everything in the Universe
“In his first poetry collection, John Saad captures his youth’s memories and questions that season into an outdoorsman’s mature love of the remnants of the longleaf pine forests of his native Alabama. This poetry of a hunter, fisherman and rural landowner reflects the poet’s close familiarity with the particulars of his region’s often humanly disrupted natural world. Glinting with sharply rendered images, the poems range from conversation’s rustic plaintalk to satirical bite (posturing plantation quail hunters “piddling in our seersucker”) to the gracefully limpid (“The pleasure of a woodpile’s / in the stacking of shape and time . . .”) to the deft richness of poems like “Prescribed Fire”, “No Plectrum” and “The Flowered Sepulcher”. In Saad’s poetry is the sense of the land as spiritual foundation.”
—Daniel Corrie, author of Words, World and For the Future
“Saad’s poems shed their shirts, stinking of fatwood and mulch and threatening to catch fire, and in that sticky-sweet combustibility, they evoke our fears and desires, where “the quivering corona of each hard hat / dissolves into the bog’s pine splinter and crack” during a prescribed burn and where “fingers map your skin // down to your navel, / where the earth is smaller than a scar” in an intimate moment with a couple after gardening. In Longleaf, I hear wisdom and warnings, and I take heed.”
—Adam Vines, editor of Birmingham Poetry Review and author of The Coal Life
“Longleaf is a chapbook of poems deeply rooted in place and the landscape of John Saad’s native coastal Alabama. This wide-ranging and wise collection shows the poet’s bone-deep connection to nature.”
—James Crews, author of The Book of What Stays, Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection
About the Poet
John Saad lives in Homewood, Alabama. His poetry has appeared in Terrain.org, Raleigh Review, Hiram Poetry Review, The Pinch, Poetry South, ISLE, The Wheel, and elsewhere. He has contributed book reviews to Birmingham Poetry Review and online essays to AL.com and The Progressive. His chapbook, Longleaf, was the winner of the Hopper Poetry Prize and was published in 2017 by Green Writers Press.
64 PAGES, 5 x 8.25
FORMAT: TRADE PAPER
PRICE: $14.95 (US $14.95) (CA $20.00)
PUBLICATION DATE: SEPTEMBER 2017
Distributor: IPG; also available through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
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