Katherine Webb's Bad Drawings for Good Poetry: Jones


Magic City Gospel by Ashley M. Jones (Hub City Press, 2017)

From Ashley M. Jones's "Viewing a KKK Uniform at the Civil Rights Institute":

All you can really tell at first
is that it was starched.
Some Betty Sue, Marge, Jane,
some proper girl
with a great black iron
made those corners sharp.

This was the first poem of Ashley's I ever read, and in six lines, she knocked me in the gut. By putting the horrifying hood of a klansman into the hands of a Betty Sue, we're forced to reckon with the ways terror began and begins in domestic settings, among familiar faces. The poem also reminded me of the first time I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. My brother and I were kids, afraid to look closely at the photos, afraid we'd see someone we knew—and loved—in one of the white mobs.


Katherine Webb is responsible for our Bad Drawings for Good Poetry feature. She is a writer, editor and educator in Birmingham, Alabama, where she directs the Nitty-Gritty Magic City Reading Series. She's always on the lookout for new writers to host. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Bitter SouthernerPANK, among others. She’s not a visual artist.

Katherine Webb's Bad Drawings for Good Poetry: Mortara

 

some planet by jamie mortara (YesYes Books, 2015)

From "your house becomes an angry mouth": 

colin writes suicide letters on the bathroom mirror / threatens to hang himself from the lip of the gutters / tyler says farewell and mark says nothing / you and I hide the ladder and find the last bowl of chili waiting in the kitchen / it speaks after weeks of growing its own being and a taste for riddling: / what is a home but not your home?

The poems in some planet so completely, so capably capture the feeling of being young and lost, full of existential angst while trying to maintain a who-gives-a-shit front, being full of universal hope and wonder while being crushed by the grind, all the while trying to make sense of who you are, trying to love yourself, and maybe love another, maybe accept the love of others. Reading the book made me feel like I was 22, drunk, and depressed again, but this time, I had someone saying, "Open your eyes, kid. Look up at the stars."

For some reason, no image better captured that feeling, or jamie's sense of humor, than this bowl of riddling chili. 


Katherine Webb is responsible for our Bad Drawings for Good Poetry feature. She is a writer, editor and educator in Birmingham, Alabama, where she directs the Nitty-Gritty Magic City Reading Series. She's always on the lookout for new writers to host. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Bitter SouthernerPANK, among others. She’s not a visual artist.

Katherine Webb's Bad Drawings for Good Poetry: Limón


Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón (Milkweed, 2015)

From "How to Triumph Like a Girl":
Don’t you want to tug my shirt and see / the huge beating genius machine / that thinks, no, it knows, / it’s going to come in first.

Ever since reading Ada Limón's Bright Dead Things, I can't shake this image from the opening poem—this big all-knowing, victory-bound, pump-pumping horse heart triumphantly beating inside a girl.


Katherine Webb is responsible for our Bad Drawings for Good Poetry feature. She is a writer, editor and educator in Birmingham, Alabama, where she directs the Nitty-Gritty Magic City Reading Series. She's always on the lookout for new writers to host. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Bitter SouthernerPANK, among others. She’s not a visual artist.