This collection is divided into three sections. The first focuses on the author's mother, the second on portions of our nation's (and specifically Mississippi's) history, and the third provides a melange of poems about the south and a broader view of race and society. There are many fine moments (including "Miscegenation" read by the author at the link above), and a few others I might quibble over, but Trethewey remains an important voice in American poetry today.
I think my favorite of this set is "Southern Crescent," found in the first section. It provides a beautiful reflection on family, identity, and memory, and the final lines still echo in my hearing. "Myth" is a stunner of an effort - a palindrom-esque poem, where the last nine lines are the same as the first nine, except in reverse order. It provides a thoughtful effect, a weight to each line that is unexpected at first reading of it. I also like the indictment present in "Southern History," which concludes with:
History, the teacher said, of the old South -It has a quiet force; she is a quiet force. Please acquaint yourself to her work and her voice.
a true account of how things were back then.
On screen a slave stood big as life: big mouth,
bucked eyes, our textbook's grinning proof - a lie
my teacher guarded. Silent, so did I.
ps: If you are paying attention to the photo above, you'll see that I have something up my sleeve regarding this book. Perhaps at some point, I'll report on the result of such a crazy action.