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Dirt Eaters

Teri Grimm's first book explores the duality of her southern roots.

Teri Grimm’s first book explores the duality of her southern roots.

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.

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