Friday, January 4, 2008

Poetry Friday...Mountain Folks

This is my first Poetry Friday....yay! Thanks to Mary Lee and Franki at A Year of Reading for hosting this week's roundup.

So, last week I was in my hometown of Tazewell, VA, a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Even though I'm a "big city girl" now in DC, I miss the beauty and the quiet life of the region where I'm from. I'm an avid reader of Appalachian literature, and one of my favorite authors, Jo Carson, has a well loved book of poetry, called, Stories I Ain't Told Nobody Yet. Whenever I miss my home or family, I open this book up and read a piece or two from this collection of "oral histories." Some make me laugh, some make me cry, and some just fill me with warmth and nostalgia.

One of my favorites from the collection is about negative stereotypes of mountain folks, and it's the one I'd like to share today in honor of my fellow mountain peeps:

Mountain people
can’t read,
can’t write,
don’t wear shoes,
don’t have teeth,
don’t use soap, and don’t talk plain.
They beat their kids,
beat their friends,
beat their neighbors,
and beat their dogs.
They live on cow peas,
fatback, and twenty acres
straight up and down.
They don’t have money.
They do have fleas,
tobacco patches,
liquor stills,
and at least six junk cars in the front yard,
Well, let me tell you:
I am from here,
I’m not like that
and I am damned tired of being told I am.
~ Jo Carson

When I was teaching English to high school juniors, I used this poem as an introduction to a lesson about stereotypes, and it led to some amazing discussions. Graycie over at "Today's Homework," has a great post about using this poem in her remedial English class and having students model it to write a poem called "Teenagers Can."

Also be sure to check out the rest of the Poetry Friday submissions at A Year of Reading!


  1. Great poem, Jill! And welcome to Poetry Friday!

  2. Oh, yeah. Good poem. People say the same thing about Mississippi, my home state, too.

    Welcome to Poetry Friday!

    Susan T.
    Chicken Spaghetti