cover image Once a City Said: A Louisville Poets Anthology

Once a City Said: A Louisville Poets Anthology

Edited by Joy Priest. Sarabande, $16.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-1-956046-08-3

Edited by Louisville, Ky., native Priest (Horsepower) and conceived in the aftermath of citywide protests in 2020, this energetic anthology offers an introduction to the variety and aesthetic diversity of Louisville’s poets. An atmospheric sense of place emerges through the collection’s distinct voices and perspectives. Erin Keane’s “Ghost Signs, Flea Market” opens: “At the end of the world, the urban tortoise/ knows where he wants to be: craning ancient// neck up Market Street bricks, open to catching/ up with time.” In “Hot Brown,” Rheonna Nicole writes, “My city has a ferocious appetite for hot browns and brown liquor./ It sits high and mighty on its brown Derby horse, gets full from its winnings,/ brownnoses to fickle tourists but forgets about the black and brown/ bodies waiting for a seat at the table.” While “Derby City” is mostly known for its horse racing (as well as bourbon and basketball), it is also a meeting place of language and history. As Priest writes in her foreword, the anthology aims at “recover[ing] those poetic histories and communities in the poems that follow on Louisville’s collective traditions and icons, places and protests, spirits and songs, portraits and memories.” It more than succeeds.(June)