Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Canary Dirge by Dale Marie Prenatt

Yesterday’s poems were, in part, homages to other poets, inspired by their poems. For today’s poem, former Northsider Dale Marie Prenatt (frequent contributor to Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary journal of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative–with an April 15 deadline, by the way–and designer of this website) was “inspired” (if anger can be considered inspiration) by the bestselling book, Hillbilly Elegy. Here’s her response:

Canary Dirge

American Elegy is coming
Just you wait –
A bestseller will kill you off too

I’m a hillbilly, they plum kill’t me
Bulldozed my bones into valley fill
with the other dead canaries

When exxon oil busts up your aquifers
a red state lawyer
will write a bestseller

about your loose bootstraps too
and shove them down your throat

You’ll be paying nestlé for your muddy tap
before your bookclub figures out
that our selenium sludge runs

and we are your headwaters

Dale Marie Prenatt, 2017

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine


Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2-16-March 2018. Pauletta is author of six poetry collections, Plaindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017; winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award), Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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