Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sherry Chandler and the Historic Poets of Kentucky

Sherry Chandler's weblog is always worth reading. Lately, I've been enjoying her exploration of some early Kentucky writers. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, these poets seem not to have considered themselves Appalachians or backwoodsmen. They are fascinating, and despite my days as an earnest undergrad in the English department, I've not heard of them before. It makes me wonder why the New England Yankees have so dominated American literature.

From The Drunken Poet of Danville, Thomas Johnson Jr., Sherry shares excerpts from "Kentucky Miscellany" (1789), published "while Kentucky was still a county of Virginia." The first poem is Johnson's satire on himself. The second is a satire on Brown and Wilkinson.

William Littell "was born in New Jersey in 1768 and came to Kentucky in 1801." She quotes from his "Festoons of Fancy." Gilbert Imlay"is [another] fascinating character. Idealistic enough to have won Mary Wollstonecraft and fathered her first child, opportunistic (or at least connected) enough to have moved through the height of the French Terror with impunity...."

I hope there is more to come. She does a fine job of providing context for these interesting poems and prose exceprts.

No comments: