The Map That Lies Between Us by Anne Carroll George

Copyright 2000
Checked out 5 times in 10 years
Last checked out 9 years ago

Anne Carroll George was named Alabama Poet of the Year in 1994 and this volume was named Book of the Year by the Alabama State Poetry Society. I’m guessing it received all of its attention in 2001 because of this honor. It’s a shame that attention died after that because this is a wonderful book of poetry very rooted in Alabama. She had me hooked with the first stanza of the first poem, “Late, Daniel’s Bend”:

Twilight oils the water, slicks
the riverbank’s rose veins. I
sit on the pier, waiting, watching
while white tips of waves fade
and one blue heron, dark on dark,
still stalks the shallow reeds.

I love the image and the dense alliteration. Not all of her poetry is quite so saturated but it’s all worth reading. I was surprised she had never lived any length of time on the Gulf because water imagery appears often enough in her poems to make me wonder if she had mermaid blood in her, from water aerobics to the Gulf to “Aunt Nettie at the Well.”

George began writing after retiring from teaching; thus this book is from the perspective of an older woman, spanning 20 years (1980-2000). There are poems about bingo (which ends with swimming) and old men driving and perspectives on relationships that have endured many years.

The choice of cover art for this book is unfortunate: a picture of the title in cross-stitch with a flowery border. It too saccharine to properly represent the poetry within. George’s poetry is not prim. There’s blood and there’s desire. As guilty as anyone of judging a book by its cover, I probably wouldn’t have given this book a second thought if I weren’t examining every book of poetry on the shelves. Luckily, my mission got me past the cover. This is a rewarding book of poetry that I wouldn’t mind owning or giving to others who are not from the South. It transcends regionalism.

This book belongs on Albertville’s poetry shelves (and on those of every library in Alabama) because this is an Alabama poet to be proud of. The rural subject matter of many of the poems is another mark in its favor for claiming space in a small town library. In addition, the book has a poem referring specifically to our area, “Picking Tomatoes on Sand Mountain.” The trick, as with most books of poetry, is getting people to pick it up and read it.

Anne Carroll George passed away in 2001.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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