Photo of Abandoned House in Poetry, Texas by Noel Kerns

Look at this beautiful thing--there's a place called Poetry, Texas. Anyone ever been?

Noel Kerns has.

One of my coworkers just reminded me that Poetry, Texas is included in a slide show of poetry in the landscape that we have on the site.

Originally Published: June 22nd, 2009

Catherine Halley is the editor of JSTOR Daily, an online magazine that draws connections between current affairs, historical scholarship, and other content available on JSTOR, a digital library of scholarly journals, books, and primary sources. She is the former digital director of the Poetry Foundation, where she served as editor...

  1. June 22, 2009
     Karri Kokko

    No, I never went there, except virtually.

  2. June 23, 2009
     The Storialist

    Ooh---creepy and lovely! I'd love to visit.\r

    Geist Magazine does some fabulous thematic maps:\r

  3. June 23, 2009
     Eileen Myles

    I totally wantto go there.

  4. June 23, 2009
     Dale Smith

    I grew up in Garland, Texas, and never heard of Poetry, though both towns are in what folklorists call "Arklatex," a region composed of northeastern Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas that is unified by unique cultural affinities. Mike Luster, director of the Arkansas Folklife program at Arkansas State, turned me on to this regional description of the area. \r

    Maston Ussery gave Poetry--located on the old Shreveport-Dallas Road--its name "because the area in springtime reminded him of a poem." There's more here in The Handbook of Texas Online:

  5. June 23, 2009
     Don Share

    But Garland - that's a poetical name, too! The word "anthology" comes from the ancient Greek word for garland, as in Meleager's famous "Greek Anthology" - the earliest known collection of poetry by various hands...

  6. June 23, 2009
     Dale Smith

    Don--thanks for this connection between Garland and anthology. I wonder how that name landscape influenced my unconscious all those years of growing up in what was an otherwise mundane-seeming suburban outback of Dallas?

  7. June 23, 2009

    There's also a Poetry, Georgia! How do I know? Here's a slice of C.D. Wright's Deepstep Come Shining, one of the best road-trip poems ever: \r

    In Rome (likewise-built-on-seven-hills), Georgia, the citizens hail their fellows as Romans. We never found the Forum. The arrows continued pointing right. And a sculpture of Remus and Romulus. Given by Il Duce to the Romans of Georgia. Stored in a root cellar during the war.\r

    It follows that in Athens, Georgia, the citizens hail their fellows as Athenians.\r

    West of Rome is Poetry. Poetry, Georgia. Wonder who lives there.\r

    [Excerpt from]

  8. June 23, 2009
     Martin Earl


    Thanks so much for introducing us to Kerns work. Looking into the world of contemporary photography is like looking into the world of contemporary poetry. There are, like poets, just so many excellent photographers out there. One has to clear away the visual noise, the ersatz imagery that we're forced to stare at all day just to see what really talented people can do. Poetry probably suffers similarly, drowned out by the constant stream hackneyed media-speak and jargons of all kinds. (Ashbery, in his later career has become a master at restoring the linguistic trash of contemporary culture to poetry, a great articulator of cultural clutter). \r

    Kerns work is very interesting. Here's how he does it:\r

    "The photographs in this essay were shot at night and in total darkness aside from moonlight and, in some cases, artistic effect lighting. The only exceptions to this are “Eliasville” and “For Sale,” which were partially illuminated by sodium vapor lamps on nearby private property. \r

    The luminescence and color saturation in these images are a result of the lengthy exposure times, ranging from one to ten minutes, and belie how dark the scenes really were.\r

    For the effect lighting in several pictures, I used hand-held strobes with colored gel filters, and an arsenal of flashlights varying in intensity from a Mini-Maglite up to a 2,000,000 candlepower spotlight. All pictures were taken with a Nikon D80 digital SLR camera."\r

    This is from an essay he wrote worthwhile. Here's the link:\r

  9. June 23, 2009
     Catherine Halley

    Thanks for that link. It's nice to remember there's method to the magic. And thanks, too, Katie, for the CD Wright whom I think is coming up on the next Poetry Off the Shelf podcast.

  10. June 24, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    Is there a town in the U.S. named after a U.S. *poet*? Or any poet from anywhere? There must be a Homer, [State].\r

    But no Dickinson or Whitman or Poe (named after the poet, that is)?\r

    In Latin America, poets get neighborhoods and towns and rivers and things named after them all the time...\r


  11. June 24, 2009

    well, Kent, not sure if you consider him a good poet or not, but Whittier (John Greenleaf) has a large suburb of LA named after him; home of such illustrious Californian leaders as Pio Pico and Richard Nixon (though it wasn't really "Whittier" in Pico's time.) Even more interesting is that JGW was still alive when the town was named and he even provided a dedicatory poem.

  12. June 24, 2009
     thomas brady

    Greeley, CO is named after Horace Greeley, NY Tribune editor, who published Rufus Griswold's libelous obituary of Poe. Does that count?

  13. June 24, 2009
     Don Share

    This doesn't count, I know, but there are at least two Eugene Field Parks in the Chicago area (aka Chicagoland). Field was the guy who wrote such poems as "Little Boy Blue," "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod," and the "Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat."

  14. June 24, 2009
     Cathy Halley

    I can recite "Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat" from memory. Ask me sometime!

  15. June 24, 2009
     John Oliver Simon

    There is a Chaucer Street in the People's Republic of Berkeley, my home town. It's one block long.\r

    San Francisco has a number of streets named after writers, including Jack Kerouac Alley.

  16. June 24, 2009

    oh, and there's the Longfellow Bridge in Boston/Cambridge is named after Henry Wadsworth. Don, shame on you for not thinking of that one.

  17. June 24, 2009
     Don Share

    Yes! And designed by the father of the great Boston poet John "Wheels" Wheelwright. Thank you!

  18. June 25, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    The School of Quietude rules the County Boards, apparently!\r

    A suburb of LA and a bridge is nice. But in other countries poets have towns and parks and statues dedicated to them galore. Their faces appear on coins and paper money. When you pay for gas in Lisbon, for example, you hand the clerk a 20 with the image of Fernando Pessoa... There are four or five different poets on Uruguayan denominations. Etc.\r