Spent Saturday night in Clarksdale, Mississippi at Clark House, a recently opened, beautifully renovated historic home near downtown, after lunch at City Grocery in Oxford and a little tool around Square Books. We were in Clarksdale for the launch of Delta Blues, a collection of mystery stories edited by Carolyn Haines, at the Ground Zero blues club, with proceeds going to the Rock River Foundation. I’m not a blues aficionado, and I’m pretty sure I got no right to sing the blues, but it was fun hearing a bunch of writers take the stage and sing and play their writerly hearts out for a good cause.
Whenever I arrive somewhere new, I like to get my bearings by taking a stroll, whether it’s just through the hotel lobby or around a neighborhood. It helps me feel located in that particular place, my temporary home. After we got settled into our room (I picked the one named Bottletree, of course), I headed out into the neighborhood, which borders Clarksdale’s downtown. As I walked down the sidewalk, big squares of concrete cracked and buckled by the roots of old oak trees, the wind came up, tossing the yellow jonquil blooms lining people’s yards. It occurred to me that I did in fact feel at home, and I realized that these streets I’ve walked out on from inns and hotels and bed and breakfasts in Clarksdale, in Montgomery and Monroeville and Montevallo and Hartselle, Alabama, in Inman Park in Atlanta, are like the streets where my grandmothers lived in Arkadelphia and Hot Springs, Arkansas, or the ones I rode my homemade skateboard down in Little Rock, Arkansas, where we lived on 2020 N. Arthur, an address my childhood mind free-associated with both clear vision and the knights of the round table. Forsythia was blooming, the flowering quince beginning to show its pink blossoms. I overheard the murmurings of a conversation taking place on a back porch. Someone drove up with a kid coming home from basketball practice. All around me, the houses, from grand nineteenth century to more recent twenties bungalows, seemed settled into their yards. A rainbow wind sock waved from the porch of a Victorian two-story, reminding me of an old lady with a bright scarf.
- Jennifer Horne
- I’m a writer, editor, and teacher, and I enjoy connecting with readers and other writers. On November 1, 2017, I was commissioned Alabama's Poet Laureate, for a four-year term. I grew up in Arkansas and have lived for many years in Alabama, although I’ve also lived abroad, in England and Romania, and have traveled extensively in Ireland and Greece. I’ve written two collections of poems, "Little Wanderer" (2016) a collection of road and travel poems, and "Bottle Tree" (2010), which focuses on my experiences as a southern woman. I’ve also written "Tell the World You’re a Wildflower," a collection of loosely interwoven short stories in the voices of southern women and girls. I love to put together collections as well, and I edited "Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets," and co-edited, with Wendy Reed, "All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality," and "Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality," as well as "Belles’ Letters II: Contemporary Fiction by Alabama Women," co-edited with Don Noble. I’m currently working on a memoir-influenced book about Scott and Zelda biographer Sara Mayfield as well as a new collection of short stories.