River Mouth: ($15, 86pp, 6X9”: Softcover ISBN: 978-1-68114-314-9; $30: Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-315-6; $2.99: EBook ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-316-3; Release: September 14, 2017): The Lower Mississippi River is its own life force. Those governed by the river plead, beg, and offer gratitude. Above all, they understand the Mississippi is a god who takes care of them but also takes their beloveds away. Dobbins began River Mouth, a body of narrative persona poems, when Memphis flooded in 2011. She turned to The Memphis Public Library and the steamboat smokestacks of last century, writing with an urgency to heed history’s words and the persons—the ones calling out and imagined between lines of research. Ghost queens and their alligator god speak through the River Mouth with deckhands, sharecroppers, shanty preachers, and pilots. They school us not just in the meaning of family and work, but they expose the farce into which all of us—regardless of geography and time—are lured: the farce of control.
Heather Dobbins is a proud native of Memphis. She is author of the poetry collection In the Low Houses (Kelsay Press, 2014) and the recipient of awards and fellowships to Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts—France. Her poems and reviews have been published in The Pinch, The Potomac Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and Women’s Studies Review, among others. She recently moved to the hills of Fort Smith, Arkansas. For more information, visit heatherdobbins.net.
“Dobbins is not only a writer of poetry but a student, attuned to the ancestry of the elegiac, whose strong grasp of craft reflects how and why the tradition of lament has been so integral to poetry’s migratory patterns. Poets like Dobbins simultaneously follow and influence its direction. Whether a lover, a landscape, or even a former version of the self, we are beings surviving loss; we are beings surviving the tension of movement—from past to present, and the question of the future… Dobbins proves a trustworthy guide into the elegiac. From subtle, extrapolating metaphor to repetition of themes and images, from careful line breaks to lyrical assonance, she proves to be a poet to be watched.” —Caitlin Mackenzie, The Rumpus
“Over and over in these poems, Dobbins navigates between husband and lover, commitment and infidelity, between the graves of the dead and bed of the living. Image by image, the narrator of this book seeks dominion over the chaos of the personal. In the end, the poet recognizes and her poems tell us, there is only trying. I cannot wait to read what Heather Dobbins next brings us.” —Sarah Wentzel, The Common