Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Diann Blakely

A Disturbing Sweetness

Poet Diann Blakely looks at the work of legendary Memphis photographer William Eggleston

January 20, 2011 One of the most striking images in Michael Almereyda’s documentary film, William Eggleston in the Real World, also appears on the cover of the new Eggleston collection, For Now: Eggleston’s wife, Rosa, lies sleeping with a yellow-flowered duvet bunched across her middle, one slender, aristocratic hand holding the sheets in place near the pubic region. Has the couple just had sex? Rosa’s lovely long legs end in feet that appear slightly dirty; the room is small, dingy, and low-ceilinged. The gaping closet door has a pink, pocketed storage container hanging over the top, and a plastic, brown-nippled baby bottle sits on top of a staticky television. Remember when TV used to go “off the air” at night? There’s something yellow and disturbing about the portrait.

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In Her Own Right

A poet considers the lasting influence of Eleanor Ross Taylor

December 28, 2010 Diann Blakely met Eleanor Ross Taylor—poet and widow of Peter Taylor—nearly twenty years ago in Sewanee, Tennessee. For years, until Mrs. Taylor’s age and health began to limit her activity, the two renewed their friendship each summer in Sewanee, writing letters in between. On the publication of Taylor’s Captive Voices, Blakely remembers the poet who gave her the best advice of her life. In 2010, her 91st year, Eleanor Ross Taylor won the Poetry Society’s prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (and $100,000) and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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"Before the Flood: A Solo From New Orleans"

Diann Blakely, the author of three poetry collections, is a graduate of both the University of the South and Vanderbilt University. She studied at New York University, Harvard, and Boston University before earning an MFA from Vermont College. While still a work in progress, Cities of Flesh and the Dead, from which this poem is excerpted, won the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award.

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Alive and Well—in Sewanee and Elsewhere

Wyatt Prunty explains why reports of poetry’s death have been greatly exaggerated

“I am able to report that poetry is alive and well today, and that it is highly varied in technique and subject,” observes Wyatt Prunty. “I enjoy the proof of that every July here in Sewanee.”

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