I have never bought any art work, but I did trade for one piece of art which I display proudly in my living room. The artist is Misty Skaggs. It is a collage featuring a portrait of Mother Jones that proclaims, “I Am Not a Humanitarian. I Am a Hellraiser!” Misty Skaggs is more than an artist. She is a writer, a gardener, a caregiver, a photographer, and an all-around lover of the Eastern Kentucky mountains where she was born, raised, and lives. This book is the closest thing to a “zine” that I’ve seen a university press publish. Start with the author’s “Preface,” a beautiful tribute to her Great Mamaw, Lovel Blankenbecker, and relish all these poems anchored deeply in the land and the seasons. “These are the poems we need—their surprise, their shine, their fearlessness, their joy, their brazen and unrepentant love of women the world has tried (and failed) to render invisible. If ever there was an example of the political and the personal merging with pure fearlessness and urgency, it’s happening in this book by Misty Skaggs. Give yourself over to them. You'll be grateful you did.”—Chanel Dubofsky. “These poems are 100 percent hillbilly and smart and beautiful. Skaggs writes contemporary Appalachia with the power and grace of a young woman who knows it in her heart and her bones.”—Crystal Wilkinson. “I love (Skaggs’s) reverence for life and the irreverence for the status quo. These are strong poems from a woman who knows what it means to truly bloom where she is planted…. (An) extraordinary collection.”—Roberta Schutz. “The land of the southern Appalachians presents a forbiddingly stony countenance, but for those unafraid to turn over the rocks, to work the dark earth underneath, to follow the signs of the sky, the creatures of the earth, and the whisperings of the heart as they plant their seeds, the results are not only nourishing but filled with powerful beauty. Misty Skaggs is one such poet, and here she shares her bounty.”—Ronni Lundy.
Athens: Ohio University Press, 2019. 99 pages with the author’s color photographs and one of her drawings. Trade paperback.