A review of Louisiana Poets: A Literary Guide, (U. Press of Mississippi, 2019) by Catharine Savage Brosman and Olivia McNeely Pass.
The poet and the scholar are reportedly different sorts of people. Rarely do you find high performance in both roles combined in one person. Catharine Brosman has done it. The only other example I can think of is the British classicist and poet A.E. Housman.
Brosman has published 15 well-received collections of poetry. But also, as retired Professor of French of Tulane University, she has written or edited, by my count, 17 volumes on French literature and culture. These are both factual and critical guides to a large number of French writers and visual artists. Real scholarship of the sort that is increasingly scarce these days.
In the last few years Brosman has turned her broad and deep scholarship to the literature of the South. Louisiana Poets, co-written with Olivia McNeely Pass, tells us what we need to know about the lives and works of more than 40 poets practicing in recent times, including African Americans and adopted Louisianans.
Louisiana Poets was preceded by Louisiana Creole Literature: A Historical Study (2013) and Southwestern Women Writers and the Vision of Goodness (2016). The first offers a surprising account of the extent and quality of Louisiana literature in French from its founding.
I remember a time when it was conventional cant that the South was disappearing, and that “Southern literature” had already done so. Catharine Brosman’s scholarship reveals that the central role of Southern writers in American civilisation is with us yet. The reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.