The Tillable Land: Poems (Paperback)

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Description


"The Tillable Land is a heart-racing, heart-breaking lyric, a liberating coming of age for our stunted relationship to all that feeds us."-Rebecca Gayle Howell, Author of American Purgatory and Render/An Apocalypse and Poetry Editor, Oxford American

In The Tillable Land, Melva Sue Priddy's poetry tells the story of a girlhood made of both land and family in midcentury Kentucky. There is a growing up and a coming of age in these poems. Part memoir-in-verse, part praise song, The Tillable Land-through the story of one woman's hard-won Kentucky life and the physical and emotional work of growing up close to the land in a man's world-reminds us that it is possible to be both a farmer and a woman and that healing can be found in both the earth and the power of Mother Nature within us. "Priddy makes brilliant use of the repetitive, braiding form of the villanelle to convey the relentless cycles of farm work. But somehow, amid this punishing labor, 'another god spoke with her] . . . and words songed through her] veins'. She never let go of that singing, and now she offers it to us." George Ella Lyon, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2015-2016, author of Back to the Light

" Priddy's The Tillable Land is a double helix of a book. One strand is a story about a family's life-dairy farming and growing tobacco, and also food for the table-beginning with an initial purchase of an unforgiving seventy-acre plot of land that had been deemed untillable. The other strand concerns the oldest daughter who, from a very young age, bears onerous responsibilities both inside and outside a house ruled by a father who believes that children-and women-should be seen and not heard. Because she 'could not be silent' as she matures, her life is marked by the 'tingling numbness' of this past. Robert Frost's 'The land was ours before we were the land's' is a line that maps the trajectory of Melva Sue Priddy's teeming book. This book, often not pretty, formally enacts a winding, unwinding, rewinding journey that leads one woman, buttressed by smarts and beauty, to salvage from memory a place written into her DNA."-Debra Kang Dean, author of Totem: America

"'The farm raged with run-down fences, ' Priddy tells us early on in The Tillable Land, and 'the family had no such boundaries.' The poet sets those boundaries now, by chronicling a childhood where her father required his small children to do work they had neither the size nor strength to perform. Priddy makes brilliant use of the repetitive, braiding form of the villanelle to convey the relentless cycles of farm work. But somehow, amid this punishing labor, 'another god spoke with her] and words warm songed through her] veins.' She never let go of that singing, and now she offers it to us. "-George Ella Lyon, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2015-2016, author of Back to the Light

About the Author


MELVA SUE PRIDDY, an American poet, grew up working on her family's dairy and tobacco farm in Hardin County, Kentucky. She received a BA from Berea College, an MEd from the University of Kentucky, and an MFA from Spalding University. Priddy taught English Language Arts and Creative Writing for twenty years. Her poems have been published in Appalachian Review, Lexington Poetry Month>, Motes, and Still: The Journal, among other print and online publications. She lives in Winchester, Kentucky, with her husband, and together they own a small farm in White Mills, Kentucky. The Tillable Land is her debut book.

Praise For…


“Priddy’s teeming book, The Tillable Land, often not pretty, formally enacts a winding, unwinding, rewinding journey that leads one woman, buttressed by smarts and beauty, to salvage from memory a place written into her DNA.”—DEBRA KANG DEAN


“These poems are spoken from ‘deep inside / my own bones’ heart, where no one could touch me.’…Priddy shares a way, for each of us with ears to hear, to live and speak the truths of our own ‘bones’ heart.’”—DIANE GILLIAM


“‘The farm raged with run-down fences,’ Priddy tells us early on in The Tillable Land, and ‘the family had no such boundaries.’ The poet sets those boundaries now, by chronicling a childhood where her father required his small children to do work they had neither the size nor strength to perform. … But somehow, amid this punishing labor, “another god spoke with [her]…and words warm songed through [her] veins.” She never let go of that singing, and now she offers it to us. …”—GEORGE ELLA LYON


“Growing up and coming of age in these poems requires a tug in two directions at once—the desire to flee and the desire to hold on have held equal sway. It is a powerful double bond and makes [Priddy’s] response all the more poignant.”—MAURICE MANNING


“Priddy is that rare twenty-first-century poet whose lines both vault and crawl from the earth…in her remarkable debut volume, The Tillable Land. … I read [these harrowing poems] in awe of Priddy’s clear-eyed understanding…”—MOLLY PEACOCK





Product Details
ISBN: 9781945049224
ISBN-10: 1945049227
Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press, LLC
Publication Date: April 19th, 2022
Pages: 128
Language: English