May 2010
A review of

Southern Comfort

by Nin Andrews

Central question: How do you know when a poet is “telling the truth”?
Also by the author: Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum?, a collection of actual emails from actual students to an actual professor (not the author), reformatted as poetry; Sample “poem”: “Dear Professor / I started my homework last night / and I couldn’t do problem 1 / I wasn’t sure about problem 2 either / I wrote a few things down / but I thought I’d come by your office / and see if you could help me / with the rest of the problems / Would that be a problem?”; Representative opening lines: “Bathing, Miss De Angelo informed us in health class / is very important, especially once you become a teenager”

Southern Comfort is, possibly, a collection of poetry about Nin Andrews’s upbringing in the South, or about Andrews’s invented history of a young woman’s memories of her Southern youth, or, perhaps most likely, a mixture of both. The reason the provenance of the poems arises immediately is because the work arrives frequently as prose poems that can affect a reader first as autobiography before they fully register as poetry.

From “After the snake bit him”:

Jimmy liked showing off where the fangs went in. You can’t blame a gal when you grab her from behind, he’d say. Like the snake had to be some kind of gal. I just smirked, tossed my ponytail, and walked away. That was the year I wouldn’t muck the stalls or toss horseshoes or listen to his talk about what he did with this girl or that. Instead I rode my fat-tired bicycle into town and had my hair permed in a thousand curls. All I ever cared about was how I looked….

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker, editor at large for Entertainment Weekly, has written about poetry for the New York Times, the Village Voice, and the Best American Poetry blog. He is working on a book about poetry and pop culture.

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