Review of Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia
I was honored to be asked by a wonderful southern writer, Patricia Neely-Dorsey, to write a review of her book of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia. Her poetry collection was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me as Neely-Dorsey’s childhood memories of the South parallel my own. I, too, was born and raised in the South. Although many people may associate the South, and more particularly Mississippi, with its contentious and sometimes seedy past, Neely-Dorsey does the opposite. Her debut collection of poetry captures the nostalgia of southern life.
Within the pages of her poetry collection, she explores the subtle nuances of southern living. Who from the South is not familiar with “watermelons on the vines” or even “turnip greens and hot cornbread”?—passages from her piece “Southern Life.” I have experienced these simple pleasures, wafting through the pages of her book.
The piece “Partyline” represents a period in time when the only way to communicate with people outside the home, besides with letters or telegrams, was the telephone. It was not unheard of in the South to pick up the phone and listen in on two other people’s conversations. Sometimes we couldn’t get a call through until one or the other of them hung up the phone—frustrating! Yet wonderful memories!
The selection “Hog Killing Time” is probably the piece that most resonates with me. My father was a farmer and my mother a homemaker, and much of what is expressed in this piece reflects my own childhood. During the fall months, we’d kill hogs and invite family and friends over to partake in the event. To this day, I do not like chitterlings (chitlins in the Southern vernacular) because of having seen how they were prepared.
There are some aspects of the Southern culture that are uniquely inherent to African-Americans such as in “Right to Vote.” The “contentious” aspects of our southern history are evident in this piece although Neely-Dorsey handles the topic with grace as she chronicles the struggles her mother and father underwent for the right to vote.
Neely-Dorsey’s poetry reflects the rich history of the South although she explores the positive aspects in her poetry collection. She explains, “There are many negative connotations associated with Mississippi and the south in general. I want to show a flip side of the coin. There is much to love about this much maligned and misunderstood part of our country.” However, much of her collection will move any reader nostalgic for the “good ole days.”
Anyone not familiar with southern traditions and customs would do well to read Neely-Dorsey’s collection of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia. And one needs not be from the South to appreciate these southern gems.
To read more of Patricia Neely-Dorsey’s works and purchase a copy of her poetry collection, please visit her website at http://www.patricianeelydorsey.webs.com/.