Parade of Alabama by Emma Lila Fundaburk

Copyright 1959
It’s unclear when this book was purchased. It was first checked out in 1997, has been checked out 5 times, and was last checked out 5 years ago.

This volume is showing signs of mildew, especially on the bottom page edges (as the book stands).

The author of this volume is an accomplished woman and books she was involved in regarding the native peoples of the southwest are still being circulated. Having engaged almost entirely in academic writing, it’s hard to understand why she embarked on this endeavor. A historical project is in keeping but why an attempt at poetry?

It’s easy to admire the ambition required for this project–simply for the conception of an epic poem about the history of Alabama. But what resulted in Fundaburk’s hands was a history book chopped into lines and stanzas instead of prose paragraphs. Every now and then she manages a brief flight into awkwardly poetic language but this book is largely a history text oddly formatted. She’s not fooling anyone.

There is little doubt why she had to self-publish it despite being previously published. She apparently was unable to escape the habit of academic writing, the tone, the imperative to document. She won’t be the first to fail such an attempted transition. It takes a concerted effort, time and determination to do that. The sad thing is that this book doesn’t give the impression that she made such an attempt. Rather she seems to think that chopped up prose is poetry.

I will give her this. She was certainly ahead of her time in conceiving of a work that is part documentary and part art/poetry. It has since been done by essayists (yet another style of writing separate from academic writing and which experienced a rebirth in the 1980s). Had she had the examples we now have today of successful melding of information and poetry she may have created something that belongs in the poetry section. But Parade of Alabama belongs in the history section.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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2 Responses to Parade of Alabama by Emma Lila Fundaburk

  1. I’ll have to look her up, but one thing I dislike is that prose poetry is seen to always exist in an ugly paragraph form; however, in ancient poetry-it is disjointed. Perhaps more of a classical architectural understanding is imperative to appreciating her work. Lack of traditional publication in her time period is not abnormal. Additionally, popular publishable poetry is not always of the best construct. Good thoughts though.

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