Alison Pelegrin is a citizen of Louisiana through and through, and her poems read like love songs to the place. In her verse, which effortlessly marries formal elements with natural speaking rhythm, she explores the silty, dangerous landscape of her home state, and the resilient nature of community life on vulnerable, ever-shifting ground. Her work is also threaded with a personal history so deeply grounded in that river-born soil that the silt seems to run in her veins. Like many Louisianans, she is at once haunted and spurred by the great hurricane. For her, the storm is a point of reckoning with God, with nature, with justice, and with her city—an occasion for theodicy, the outpouring of grief, and a dogged rebirthing. Pelegrin is an ecologist in the broadest terms: she is a student of the natural world; but also of the human ecology of homes, traditions, and communities; of the ecosystems of memory, with its own multifarious and persistent life; and of the complex web that springs up among place, people, and history.
View Alison's previous work in IMAGE issue 70 here.
I am thrilled that the University of Akron Press has just released my third poetry collection Hurricane Party. Typically when I have a book come out, I am in a state of panic about what my next project will be--I start to question if I'll ever be able to write another poem, much less another book. This time, though, everything is different. I am about halfway through a new manuscript which I have tentatively titled Dirty South, which moves away from the hurricane ravaged landscape that has dominated my poems (and my psyche!) for the last six years. My landscape and my poems continue to be haunted by floodwaters, but in Dirty South I feel like I am making new ground. I have also been able to explore some troubling environmental issues in these poems, the sense of doom I sometimes feel living in the South, and raising children in this environment which is so dear and sometimes so troubling to me.
Alison Pelegrin is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Big Muddy River of Stars (2007) and Hurricane Party (2011), both from the University of Akron Press. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer's Almanac. A life-long resident of the New Orleans area, she has reluctantly been creeping north, and currently lives in Covington, Louisiana with her family. Pelegrin serves on the English faculty at Southeastern Louisiana University.