By Misty Skaggs
“Last night I was reading these poems, sitting in a chair in my city living room. As I did, clover sprouted, enfolding my toes, rug turned meadow. Gooseberries draped my shoulders. Thorns pricked my neck. The heat pump blew honeysuckle and tobacco, lilac and pine. A super moon, a woman’s face, broke through the window, bidding me to do right. It was weird. I recommend it.”
Robert Gipe, author of Weedeater: An Illustrated Novel
“(Skaggs) has a fine ear for rural storytelling tradition, and her language, tales, and recollections thrum with authenticity….Wherever Misty Skaggs’s poetry takes her, I want to be there to read it.”
“If the reader can embrace even just one-fourth of the gratefulness that this speaker has for the basic pleasures in life, then she will come away from this collection with a deeper sense of contentment and reverence.”
Rosemary Royston, Journal of Appalachian Studies
“These are the poems we need—their surprise, their shine, their fearlessness, their joy, their brazen and unrepetant love of women the world has tried (and failed) to render invisible. If ever there was an example of the political and the personal merging with pure fearlessness and urgency, it’s happening in this book by Misty Skaggs. Give yourself over to them. You'll be grateful you did.”
Chanel Dubofsky, journalist & activist
Planted by the Signs brings us the contemporary Appalachian poetry—cultivated in the dirt of Elliott County, Kentucky—of Misty Skaggs. With an eye for details that exquisitely balance personal and social observation to communicate volumes, she tells the stories of generations of women who have learned to navigate a harsh world with a little help from the Farmers’ Almanac and the stars. The collection is separated into three sections that reference the best times to grow and harvest. Knowing and following these guidelines—planting by the signs—could mean the difference between prosperity and tragedy in the lives of Appalachian families.
Personal, political, and passionate, Planted by the Signs also explores what it means for Skaggs to care for her great-grandmother at the end of her life. Color photos by the poet further showcase her sidelong and fierce outlook. The images and poems together deliver an intimate look into the day-to-day reality of a backwoods woman embracing barefooted radicalism in the only place she could call home.
Misty Skaggs was born and raised in the backwoods of Eastern Kentucky. She still lives in and works from a holler in Elliott County, where she tends to her poetry, her Mamaw, and her garden. Skaggs is an artist and activist as well as an author and editor, and her Appalachian roots are tightly entangled with all of her work. More info →
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Loving Mountains, Loving Men is the first book-length treatment of a topic rarely discussed or examined: gay life in Appalachia. Appalachians are known for their love of place, yet many gays and lesbians from the mountains flee to urban areas. Jeff Mann tells the story of one who left and then returned, who insists on claiming and celebrating both regional and erotic identities.
Weedeater picks up six years after the end of Robert Gipe’s first novel, Trampoline, and continues the story of the people of Canard County, Kentucky, living through the last hurrah of the coal industry and battling with opioid abuse. The events it chronicles are frantic, but its voice is filled with humor and grace.
Previously examined only by a handful of scholars, the journals of Emma Bell Miles (1879–1919) contain poignant and incisive accounts of nature and a woman’s perspective on love and marriage, death customs, child raising, medical care, and subsistence on the land in southern Appalachia in the early twentieth century.
Written in an accessible, engaging style and drawing on collaborative ethnographic research that the girls themselves helped conduct, Thinking Outside the Girl Box tells the true story of an innovative program determined to challenge the small, disempowering “boxes” girls and women are so often expected to live in.
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