by Carrie Meadows
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Acclaim for Speak, My Tongue
“Carrie Meadows’ Speak, My Tongue is a wholly original and unforgettable debut that combines poems of family trauma with poems in the voices of visionary artists who see the world through the lens of the spiritual and spectral. In this book, the corporeal and the divine cohabitate with each other, intermingling with violence, poverty, race, and the landscape of the American South in all its history, glory, complexities, and shame. These poems are luminous, tight, wondrous songs that give voice to artists who were outsiders of all kinds—self-taught, on the margins of society, often perceived as crazy—and limn their prayers, confessions, declarations, stories, and exclamations with force and grace.”
— Erika Meitner
“Carrie Meadows’ debut collection of poetry, Speak, My Tongue, imaginatively engages with a wide range of the American South’s best-known self-taught artists. In poems that are as tender, moving, disturbing, and original as the art and artists they explore, Meadows reads the American South through the eyes of those privileged with talent and vision, if not money and power. This is a gritty, soulful look at the South in conversation with its artists, among whom Carrie Meadows herself must be counted.”
— Ed Falco
“In Speak, My Tongue Carrie Meadows gives voice to the last vestiges of Old Weird America that still live and breathe in the South, an America of Bible thumping, speaking in tongues, outsider artists who paint their revelations on Street corners and church walls. This is a land of men with fists like hammers, women who turn to Jesus, and children who see it all. Is it heaven or the end of the world? Hard to tell, but you could ask the angels in the cornfield. They have a gospel to declare as does Meadows in this incandescent collection.”
— Barbara Hamby
“Between the ideas of “Why I Go to Church” and “Leaving the Church” is a “God Sent the [shot] Gun” shattering of spiritual paint and paint cans. Meadows wanders with and without aim into the lives of the self-taught artists and teaches each of us, carefully, like a Southern quilt-maker, grandmother teaching quilt-stitches to sing. So go find your favorite Southern front porch rocking chair, a glass of sweet Southern ice tea, and listen. Speak, my Tongue is a song.”
— Earl Edward S. Braggs
from “Wade in the Water”
This ground, this world, it ain’t my home.
God knocked at my door, God knocked
my legs out from under me, and my soul
looked back in wonder. I saw a spider
swinging from her silk like death’s bell.
I saw foil covering Sunday dinner,
the preacher humming of The Coming,
The Quiet-Ever-After, and we all said
Amen. We said,
Bring me your wood, your cloth, your leftover
cardboard boxes, and I—through His hand—
will make them new. Bring me
glass cat eyes with splinters, neckties frayed
like the clipped wings of an eagle,
a woman’s head on a cow’s body,
beer cans cut into flowers.
Bring me tire treads, chicken wire,
Mickey Mouse in chains, broken bedsprings.
Bring me your own busted knuckles
and see them shine like mica catching sunlight.
About the Author
Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Reading Tour Dates
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Thursday, October 25, 2017C.D. Wright Conference
University of Central Arkansas
November 3-4, 2017
Speakeasy Reader Series
December 6, 2017
March 7-10, 2018