Southern comfort

2009, CavanKerry Press

Powerful Magic

an excerpt from Southern Comfort

"Lord knows it will take a powerful magic to raise you up right," my grandmother from Memphis, Tennessee liked to say. She always claimed she had eyes in the back of her head. And she was right. Because whenever I did something wrong, she was there to tell me about it. "You did a bad thing," she’d say. "Yes, Ma’am, you did. You did a bad, bad thing. In fact you did a thing so bad, it’s a good thing your mama didn’t see you. You don’t tell her, and neither will I. It will be our secret. Between you, me, and the Lord, Jesus ChristWe don’t want to worry your mama, now do we? And we don’t want to tell her any bad things." Then she’d pick me up in her arms and sing me a hymn. I’d lean back to see her lips form the words. I’d watch her bosom rise and fall like waves. Big ocean waves. She’d keep right on singing, too, till I asked her if she was ever going to stop. "Child," she’d say, "don’t you know anything? The Lord’s song is never done. You got to make a bad thing good, so sing it. Sing it with me now. Sing it good."

Southern Comfort reads like a poetic memoir doled out anecdote by anecdote, each one tinged with an awareness of the unspoken―the underlying ambivalence, shame and desperation common to too many of our childhoods. Long time fans of Andrews’ daring and inventive poetry will discover a different side to her aesthetic in this thoroughly compelling and moving book.” (Mark Cox)|”Southern Comfort has all the essential ingredients: grandmas, biscuits, snakes, stringed instruments, a boy named Jimmy, ghosts, and the Lord. Andrews turns her wickedly accurate imagination on these details and alchemizes them into a poetry of mythic proportions in this deeply funny, deeply intelligent, truly southern book.
— Maggie Anderson

Read a review of Southern Comfort from Entertainment Weekly here.