Notes towards a Southern Regionalism Poetics Manifesto inside the 21st Century: Part One: A Peculiar (Personal ) Geography
I am a regionalist. I am a Southern writer. I am a storyteller.
When you pass chicken houses, you will most likely smell chicken shit.
I am collecting the lousy antique trash of yesteryear, past times. I am a cannibal. A cliché devouring other clichés. Self-indulgence? The parody of ego?
I am eating the flesh of the past on a Sunday morning. I am hunting deer with Jesus Christ deep down within a cold Saturday evening in January. I have never hunted deer before. The future keeps happening.
Gratuitous Violence. Family and the incest. Hank Williams Senior. Hank Williams Jr. The shotgun wedding of the soul and ghost.
This sure is one those investigations of sordid sorts why I agree with my first declarative sentence.
Initially, a response to Hank Lazer’s essay “Poetry Scouting Mission: At the intersection of Southern and Experimental,” which serves as an introduction for the poetry anthology Another South: Experimental Writing in the South, which is edited by Poet Bill Lavender.
Like most motherfuckers lollygagging in the swampy brackish backwaters of existence, this essay is not necessarily pertinent. True to Southern form, I am behind the times as Lazer’s essay is about ten years old.
Also, the follow up to my first chapbook has reared an ugly whorish ghostliness into slow drafting(s) of physicality. Duskhouse to Duskhouse is nearing completion. I want to understand. I understand nothing. I eat rocks on the dirt road.
What follows is not a persuasion of any kind. This is conviction, not convincing. Humor will fall flat. Incoherence shall manifest here and there. Indulgence shall manifest. This is the mania of despondency and being out of touch. This is being an outsider. This is simple minded and naïve.
Futility is fatality. The micro is the macro. Myth occurs forever and anywhere always the recurring cyclical. Fragments jutting and bursting. History is always the forever unseen future.
Regionalism. -- The nervous disorders and malady of the macrocosm is all present even magnified more intensely through grievance tragic/triumphant/comedic shenanigans in the micro details. Devils and (holy) ghost in the details.
All is occurring in the present/simultaneous/awareness of the microcosm. An egg cracks open jettisons tha somewhat incubated occupant(s) into a larger egg. This may be Earth World. The egg may belong to a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake may also have rooster wings. The serpent (infinity) is territorial.
(Two mirrors face each other till the mirror don’t exist anymore.)
So why the South? This is all happenstance and chance.
Nothing wrong with regionalism. I was born in the South. I am shaded with so-called southern characteristics. Some so called characteristics fit into stereotypes held by non-southerners.
I am the 2nd generation that is not a farmer.
The landscape including now, is a vast supernatural.
I lampoon vernacular, local color and all the colloquialisms. I actually utilize such vernacular usually on a day to day basis. To some, I may cross constant paths with cliché. I also have an accent. Whatever this means and sounds like.
I try to walk the talk.
I grew up in Northwest, Georgia. This is the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains. I grew up around plenty of Rednecks and Country Folk. Still are plenty there. Each subsequent generation seems to get co opted a little bit more by our ravenous media leviathan, which attempts to enforce what culture is.
My father’s family stretches back at least 4 generations as farmers. All were in the armed forces including my father, threading back to at least the civil war.
My great-grandfather Henry Grady Proctor died working the farm. He had a massive heart attack while plowing or messin with some crops one day. I imagine the day was drenched in sunshine and blue sky. I could be wrong. No one told me much about the man. Was he the one who played gospel songs on the banjo?
I grew up in the rural, which was maliciously maneuvering into the faint echoes of approaching suburbia-----
--The echo from metropolitan Atlanta.
I know far too well the cliché of dusty dirt roads and slow moving muddy molasses rivers. Downtown Rome, Georgia ---The Etowah River and Oostanaula River converge to form the Coosa River. All three rivers are slow moving muddy molasses rivers.
I have partaken deep inside the mangling of the soul through bad bad bad redneck habits. I have drank moonshine, snorted snuff and also participated within other destructive habits that will remain non-disclosed to avoid any possible incrimination by the wrong folk.
Redneck’s are not just southern. My mother’s side of the family in Iowa proves this. They are honest people. All fools trying to be honest are decent.
I am not connected to the land, nor had as much the chance as my father who grew up on the farm. Max Senior’s farm. Senior Proctor was the last farmer.
I connect the land by exploring the forgotten, fractured places. Places lost in the wilderness. Places lost in the the barely existing towns that are lost. Plainsville, Georgia or Campbell ton ,Georgia.
I followed a creek to the Etowah River once at the age of 16. I found an old forgotten railroad trestle in the woods. An old trace of an old railroad path.
I Sow and reap my crops from the expression plowing a field called creation. Sometimes my soul is a mule. This expression is physical, inner outer, internal and spiritual. Creation is related to the universal. Art. The expression called art. Not all art is universal. All art expresses being human. When I say art, this includes writing, painting and music. Is this perverse?-----We live in constant perverse obscene times. Time and space are becoming one very slow. I am a mute eating mud out of the rain puddle. The adults walk by and say he is retarded. Sometimes my soul is the Turkey Vulture.
The south is drenched with mystery. The South is pissed on by mystery. I have seen a ghost on top of a mountain---naked---pissing in a summer thunder storm. I recall the violent motions of those trees bending with throttling wind gusts.
I have lived the clichés numerous within some Country Music Songs.
Clichés. I so happened to live in a neighborhood that actually did build over an Indian Burial Ground.
I lived on a dead end street that ended upon a 100 year old flood plain. I experienced the flood! Late 1980s.
I lost my virginity after sneaking off with my anorexic girlfriend from a Southern Baptist Church Revival. We did the dirty deed in the back of a claustrophobic backseat parked in the city cemetery.
I have built a barn (age 19)
I have painted a barn red (age 15).
We rode 4-wheelers thru mysterious backwoods trails near Talking Rock Georgia before the big highway was built. We did this as family recreation. We found a cabin unfinished and abandoned in the middle of the woods.
Talking Rock Georgia is haunted.
I grew up very near New Echota. Calhoun, Georgia a pathetic little railroad stop pertaining to the locomotive as it traveled ferocious to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Yes, New Echota. I was raised in the valley where the Cherokee lost there final stand upon there sacred homeland. Betrayal Treason Conspiracies. I grew up half a dozen miles from where the Trail of Tears began. We took field trips one after the other here. Interpreters, you explained only very little to us children.
We visited Rock Eagle. An effigy of an Eagle made of stone. Mississippi Mound tribe probably constructed this. Thousand years ago.
Mystery pervaded/Mystery pervades
I was/is haunted.
All tied to peculiar land and unresolved.
I saw things//heard things. Those who held official power deemed such things as non pervasive non pertinent. A fancy. A damn bunch of lies.
I object. These occurring occurrences were pure convergence.
Spiritual Convergences at the Etowah River.
Cherokee buried gold in Dykes Creek upon my Grandfather’s land. The creek formed the bottom boundary to the farm.
I have driven down Dead Horse Road, Walker Mountain. Summerville, Georgia. Paradise Gardens lies down in the valley.
There is a road called Asbestos Road on the outskirts of Cleveland, Georgia---Gateway to the Mountains.
I tell unresolved stories and other folks unresolved stories. What do I mean by unresolved? The mystery that occurs in the common place?
I am drunk on the fermentation of the past---time traveling in the future. Would I rather ride a Donkey or Mule? What kind of question is that?
Tha ole playground---A childhood friend used to yell the accusation upon me that I was a Rebel. I countered a shout back he was a Yankee.
One’s art must source from one’s (personal) experiences. Of course, the coarsely obvious must be stated. A corpse is still a corpse. A hot ass is still a hot ass. Haunting eyes still haunt. Possums keep up tha good work of suicide. Thar gnarled death bloating on the highway median.
I used to fear my Southern Accent.
I have been to Hank Williams Senior’s grave on the outskirts of Montgomery Alabama. You can see the graveyard from the Interstate. I have read Hank Williams Jr.’s WARNINGS!
I have suffered Lee Johnson shout me down shoutin I was lying like a dog.
Atlanta, Georgia will never resolve anything. I have wasted a little more then one good decade here doing this living business getting dirty in dirty ATL. I have never read Gone with the Wind or sexually fantasized about Margaret Mitchell’s death by Car on Peachtree Street.
I used to sing the city too busy too hate found time for me. This was probably a delusion. Delusions still hurt. Delusions can be real--- Like the shapes out in the Kudzu fields.
Atlanta fades into the countryside then fades back into the city. Wild nature has returned to the land surrounding the abandoned dumps down South Moreland. Nature has returned where the projects got torn down. Open field briars brambles tangles-----a trickling creek down tha 13 feet gorge.
Yes, every singular lone poem is a place. I have missed the point. Have I sought the misery that is limitation as freedom?
I never wanted freedom. You are mistaken if you have seen or heard me seek that nonsense.
I have seen slow muddy rivers go swollen with flood, breaking there banks. I am living now. I will experience this again.
Every god damn time my wife and I drive to the mountains---tha rainstorms come along.
I have skills, yet I am unskilled to officials in charge.
This was supposed to be about poetry. Poetry is a way of life. Poetry is a calling. Poetry can drag you in the ditch teeth first.
I have seen shadows more real then flesh.
I will do everything backwards and wrong.
I have gone astray.
by Mathew PonY PaYRoLL BonEs DoyaL Proctor