The Ballad of Catfoot Grimes by Hodding Carter

Copyright 1964
Checked out 7 times in 45 years
Last checked out 34 years ago

This book has some pretty gritty poetry in it. The poet is from the South and focuses on the violence and poverty to be found here, especially of the backwoods sort. The title poem has to be one of the most violent, sordid stories I’ve ever read in poetry form. A crooked cop arrests a gambling black man, then decides he’d like to rape his wife, the black man manages to interfere before he does, the officer shoots the woman, the black man knock the officer unconscious, other officers show up and decide to burn the black man alive along with the whole scene of the crime and bodies. A very grim story.

I doubt the grimness of the poetry in this volume is what keeps readers from checking it out. It’s more likely because the poet has fallen into obscurity and was never known for his poetry but rather his journalism. Though the title poem and the sonnets in this collection are well done, the poetry in the latter part of the book is poor. There is no compelling reason to keep this book on the shelf. Let it go.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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