With vivid characters and striking details, the poems in Dirt Eaters recount the Teri Grimm’s examination of her Cracker and southern ancestry in a way that extends beyond the familial to include a region and class sometimes maligned, sometimes romanticized, and often misunderstood. In these haunted, lyric narratives, culture, religion, and class collide. The resulting poems serve tribute to a place and its people through examination of sin and redemption, darkness and light, haves and have-nots, and shame and pride.
The book was born of the consequences of leaving a place and family steeped in the history and traditions of the South. The poet, having moved to the Midwest, has become a sort of expatriate in her father’s eyes, and she herself has underestimated the hold that home would have over her. These poems are a mystical journey back through her ancestry. The dead serve as conjurers and characters both real and mythologized throughout the collection–Uncle Seward, who uses dice and the Bible as a means of prophecy; blind Aunt Ater, who finds solace and doom in biblical numbers; an unlucky man facing certain death as he stands on an alligator’s back; and women who gorge themselves on dirt–all find their way back to life in these poems. <i>Dirt Eaters </i>seeks grace in the unlikeliest of people and places. Bound up with the peculiar, however, is the poet’s own desire to reconcile the handed-down shame and faulty pride within herself as well as the religion of the ecstatic within her own quiet questioning.