Big-Eyed Afraid comprises five numbered sections, demarcations tracking the linear progression from youth to adulthood, and the milestones in between. Yet the poems defy this neat organization, each an intimate case study of identity; they are frank interrogations of family, race, gender, mental illness, and the forces that shape us.
Barry Hannah called her the “Gertrude Stein of the South,” and the label makes sense. She brings together artists who are drawn to her charm and intelligence, and to the empathy on display in her work. As she continues to foster young artists, writers, and musicians, she has become regarded, within her circle, as the most famous unknown artist in the South.
At the right place on the right night, you can walk into a nightclub in Nashville, start recruiting at one end of the bar, and by the time you’ve reached the other end you’ll have a band that sounds like they’ve been backing you for years. I know because I’ve done it.