Dear Peter Huggins,
Thank you for taking me back to my sweet home with your boldly-titled poetry collection, South. Blending the historic with the personal, you bring a voice to the southern conversation that speaks to both awareness and beauty.
You present narrators that cannot be separated from their surroundings. Place is an active participant in your poems: roaches swarm a kiss of young love; the water of Silver Lake waits for the ill-fated dive of a childhood friend; crows caw mockery on a Civil War reenactment.
It has been two years now since I moved from Alabama. If only I had left as gloriously as in your poem, “The Tan Contest Judge Thinks of Peaches” as I “kiss[ed] Auburn good-bye.” If only I had understood the complexities of my home, which you confront head-on in your opening poem by recounting antebellum horror from the collective perspective of the Ibo people. If only I had understood your complexities, which as an undergrad at Auburn, I had misjudged by way of your even voice and grandfather eyes. Some concepts, I am beginning to see, can be taught no other way than through the tight expression of a poem.
So thank you, Mr. Huggins, for this collection that beautifully represents your southern publishers, Solomon and George.
It has been a pleasure.