New Orleans Archive
The aftermath of disaster is difficult to measure. The answer changes depending on your metric of loss: number of deaths, houses destroyed, families displaced. Some measures go beyond numbers. You can’t graph grief, hope, trauma, or what it took to survive. But you can collect them in poetry.
For old-school southern writers, it seems, having roots in the South—being born there—is a key reason they’re classified as “southern writers.” Thinking of contemporary writers like Codrescu as “southern” is more complex. Though often intensely regional, movement is a central concern of his essays and poems.
Truman Capote often returned to New Orleans, his hometown. In his 1950 book of essays entitled Local Color, Capote writes detailed observations of the cities he visits, the first among them his Louisiana home.
Sometimes, place is an obvious theme or motif in a work, while other times it informs a work in a subtler but still necessary way.
Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler, a 2008 poetry collection inspired by Hurricane Katrina, reads like a broken heart. It is open and honest and raw. The voices of those who survived Katrina, and those who did not, are both unspeakably sad and incredulous. “Louisiana,” says one nursing home resident in the