A peculiar yet fascinating entry in our journey into macabre poetry today and one that I think needs a bit of back story.
During the middle decades of the 20th century a folklorist by the name of Harry M. Hyatt travelled the US interviewing practitioners of, what we can loosely term, folk magic. Hyatt compiled these interviews and the knowledge he gained from them in a huge five volume work called ‘Hoodoo – Conjuration – Witchcraft – Rootwork’.
Rather than give each interview a title, Hyatt headed them with a selection of quotations from the practitioner being questioned to give an overall impression of the dialogue therein.
In 1974 the poets Jerome Rothenberg and George Quasha published a remarkable anthology of American poetry called ‘America: a Prophecy’. Recognising the strange beauty of Hyatt’s work, they included a small selection of his ‘titles’ within the anthology.
So, here we have a folklorist’s obsession turned into found poetry.
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