Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia:
A Life in Poems
When I think about how this book came to be and how it finally arrived to you the reader, I think of the words of the song "The Long and Winding Road". Though most of the poems in this book were written within a span of six months (Feb 2007-Aug 2007), they've all been in the making from very early in my life. My mother gave me a passionate love for reading and writing, and my father gave me an appreciation for poetry and great literature, especially that of African-American origin.
I always hesitate to call myself a poet. I feel more like a vessel or conduit through which the poems flow. I never intentionally sat down to write any of them. They all came to be fully complete and neatly packaged, title and all. I just put them down on paper.
I wrote my very first poem in February 2007. I woke up on Valentine's Day 2007 with the words of "Our Place" forcefully dancing around in my head. I quickly got up and scribbled it down. To this day, it remains one of my favorites along with "Let's" and "Mississippi Man".
As you will see in my poetry, I am so proud of where I come from, so happy with the life I've lived and totally enamored with the southern way of life.
"Sometimes the book doesn't come from the writer as much as it comes to the writer. Such is the case with Patricia Neely-Dorsey's experience with her debut collection of poetry entitled Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia"
Joey Pinkey- Joey Pinkney Reviews
Two women, two different eras, one state, and one love are my thoughts as I consider the poetry written by Margaret Walker and Patricia Neely-Dorsey. At times, I saw little in common with the ladies other than poetry as form. Walker’s poetry rocks with evils perpetrated on living man as Neely-Dorsey’s poetry sings the joys of southern living.
The two have totally different opinions as the gap in their generations is very apparent. Walker, born in 1915, spent her formative years under the shroud of an ugly segregated south; whereas, Neely-Dorsey flourished in a post-Civil Rights Movement, Mississippi.
It is Walker who sometimes centers on the negative. For example, in the poem titled “Lineage,” she up lifts her strong grandmothers to turn and knock herself down with the line, “Why am I not as they?” Neely-Dorsey remains upbeat to the core, even the poem “Right to Vote” which might easily lean to the bitter, affirms the positive:
It seems almost incredulous
That this was how it was;
But, believe you me, no matter what,
I vote, now, just because.
Then I began to compare the poetry and noticed some shared themes. The old adage, “write what you know,” runs throughout these poets. They talk about themselves, family members, and community characters; although, Walker speaks of the broader African-American community and Neely-Dorsey peppers hers with Tupelo locals.
One positive shared theme is sense of place as they herald the beauty of our state. Walker’s “My Mississippi Spring” hums,
My heart warms under snow;
flowers with forsythia,
japonica blooms, flowering quince,
bridal wreath, blood root and violet;
yellow running jasmine vine,
cape jessamine and saucer magnolias:
tulip-shaped, scenting lemon musk upon the air.
Neely-Dorsey’s “Mississippi Morning” sings,
There’s nothing like a Mississippi morning,
On a summer’s day;
It’s such a grand production,
It seems we all should pay.
Another poem by Neely-Dorsey will be getting a lot of press in the coming weeks. She told an on-air personality that a mayoral candidate in Boonville requested the use of her poem “If Mississippi’s in You” for her campaign. The end of the poem proclaims,
I’m Mississippi born,
I’m Mississippi bred,
And when I die,
I’ll be Mississippi dead.
Both books, This is My Century: New and Collected Poems
by Margaret Walker and Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems
by Patricia Neely-Dorsey, are equally compelling and a great way to celebrate National Poetry month.
ppi Voices (copy)
sippi Voices (copy)
As both a Mississippian and one who has written poetry,I find this book a truly wonderful addition to my library!To me, a poem is a song without music. It should tell me a story, resurrect a memory, make me feel something!What I want most from poetry are words that makes sense to me. This book is 90 pages of pure delight! These poems do make sense. They tell me a story or raise a memory long buried in the recesses of my heart, they make me feel the emotion of their lines! I am from Mississippi, but I also lived my twenties, thirties and forties in Tennessee, making me mostly just a true southern woman. This book is TRUE SOUTHERN !! It really is some of the finest southern poetry I've read ! Patricia Neely- Dorsey knows southern, she knows poetry and she knows emotion. She has a bright future in the written word!
FROM SOUTHERNLADY-NANCY BLOGSPOT:
I have often said to people, “You have to be from the South to really understand our Southern Ways.” But, Patricia has captured our “ways”, and our “life” in this fantastic book of Southern Poems!!!
If your a Southerner…you need this book of Southern poems. If your a Southern wannabe you need this book to, you will understand everything about the South and our Southern way of life! Southern wannbes this book will give you a FULL idea and understanding of what the Southern Life really means…the way we think, eat, talk, and live.
Every poem is like a short story that will flood your mind with feelings of Southern comfort, charm, joy, tears, and laughter! Oh, and a appetite for some good ole Southern Food!
Recently, I was the lucky recipient of an autographed edition of Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia, a Life in Poems, by Patricia Neely-DorseyThe poetry is divided into five sections: Southern Life, Country Living, Childhood Memories, Family History, Getting Personal, Intimacies, and Summing Things Up. Picking my favorite section is difficult, but Southern Life would edge out the others.
Patricia' s writing style is direct and her message or story is easy to understand.
By painting word pictures in poetry, Patricia stir memories of my own Southern Life with images like 'mockingbirds and bumble bees,' 'chirping of the crickets,' and 'fireflies are taking flight.'
In the section, Country Living, I related to two poems, Baptismal Sunday and Preaching Sunday.
The section, Childhood Memories, triggered memories of physicians' house calls with Country Doctor (yes, I can remember that!) and magic Christmas mornings, Childhood Christmas 'to catch ole' Santa in his tracks.'
One Room School and Right to Vote are among the topics in Family History which also includes two poems about her son, Henry. Henry is a popular family name for several generations. In my family it was Paul.
Inside Me describes the authors spirit and soul, 'Butterflies spread their wings, And a new life awaits,' in the Personal section. A poem entitled Boston (Language Barrier) tickled my funny bone and triggered my memories of moving from Texas to Baltimore, MD immediately after my wedding. Salvation also triggered personal memories.
I can empathize with Patricia's lament in The (Un)Domestic Diva with a simple me, neither!" This poem is in the Intimacies section.
Summing Things Up, a collection of four poems about Mississippi, contains the title poem, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia.
Perhaps I have stirred your interest in Patricia's first book of poetry. According to the back cover about the author, she is completing a second book or poetry entitled, The Secret Garden of Love.
Well my friends I want y'all to know that I have realized I don't know myself as well as I thought. I have constantly remarked that I am not much of a reader, I usually get bored reading..but I am having to correct myself I have discovered a book that really grabbed my attention and made me smile, I first saw a review about it over at Southern Lady's place and decide it looked interesting, I do love all things Mississippi, so I ordered it from Reed's Department Store, (there is also a poem about Reed's in the book) I received it in the mail this morning. It was raining and not much going on, so I curled up in a chair with a hot cup of coffee to read a few pages. Let me tell you I was not able to put it down. This book by Patricia Neely-Dorsey is one of the most interesting and entertaining books of Poems I have ever read, heck it's about the only book of poems I've read, most don't hold my interest long enough, but this little book of Poems about the South really touched home, so many of the stories, were me...All I had to do was look deep into my soul and it was me she was writing about
Just reading this poem brings so many southern memories back to me...fishing with my daddy for catfish....fried okra, black-eyed peas and cornbread...the best pimiento cheese sandwiches in the whole world...sitting on the crank ice cream freezer, atop a quilt, on my aunt's front porch...lightening bugs and chiggers...watermelon gardens where the melons were kept in an ice-filled box and sold by the slice........*sigh.....My nickname or "handle" when I first started playing around with a computer was GRITS.....Girl Raised In The South...:O) bj
If you like southern and if you like poetry, I am pretty sure you are going to love this book.
Recently, I was approached Patricia Neely-Dorsey who has written a book of poetry about the South and Mississippi in particular. Her book is called Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia.
She was so kind to ask me to feature her book on my blog. I would not have been exposed to her book otherwise, and it is now a book that I will always treasure. I found many personal connections in her poems. All throughout the book, I found myself thinking, "I know someone just like that," or "Yep, that's how it is in my town." Some of my favorites in the book are "Southern Man" because it reminds my so much of Thomas, his daddy, and his granddaddy. I am so lucky to be engaged to a southern gentleman! I also love the poem entitled "The Rules" because it is just so true...in the South there is a rule for everything! Some of my other favorites are "Yardsaling", "Little Miss Perfect", "Name Calling", and "Too Cold For Comfort." It is apparent that Patricia loves the South and her southern heritage and wrote this book for those from the South or those who love the South to enjoy and make connections with the poetry, and also to try to rid the negative stereotype that is sometimes associated with the South. I think she does a fantastic job with this book of poetry. It is an easy and fun read! I think this book would be a great gift for a hostess gift, newlyweds, your relatives, or even yourself.
Baby J is sleeping and I spent the most wonderful evening reading Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia, A Life in Poems
from cover to cover. It's a short read, 0nly 87 pages long, but it is full of life. The hum of the city was in my immediate background, but author Patricia Neely-Dorsey transported me back home to the South for just a bit. I could almost hear the crickets and feel the balmy Southern heat as I read poem after poem about my beloved South. Thanks to the internet and a shared love for Magnolias, Patricia found my blog and asked me to check out her first book, a book of poems about her life in the South (Mississippi in particular).
Her poem, "The Rules", is a poem about the rules that every Southern child is taught. I look forward to teaching Baby J his Southern manners. Yes Ma'am, no Ma'am. No thank you, Sir and always say good morning, just to name a few.
There were also a lot of Patricia's poems that shared her stories of a childhood in the country. I loved "Country Doctor," written about her experiences going on house calls with her Dad who sometimes would only be paid with a slab of bacon.
"Boston/Language Barrier," made me laugh out loud as she wrote about her experience going to college and finding that everyone used "different" words. And, "Too Cold For Comfort" spoke straight to my heart being a Southern transplant in a chilly Northern city. I loved all of her poems about the country and country living. Every mention of biscuits made my mouth water as I contemplated hopping on the 6 train to Harlem to search out the nearest soul food restaurant.
There are also more serious poems, such as "Right to Vote," which is about the stories her parents told her about obtaining their right to vote. And, if you are from Mississippi, there is a whole selection of poems just for you! As a Southern girl born and bred, this book of poems was a delightful read. It provided glimpses of the South I know and love and windows into a part of the South I've only heard about.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Patricia's book of poems and I suggest you pick it up. It's available at Amazon for $15.00.
GET THE BOOK!
I love to curl up and read a good book, especially when that book is filled with poems! A little while ago I was asked to do just that and I am so thankful that I said yes to the opportunity and that’s how I met Patricia Neely-Dorsey. This beautiful women appeared in my inbox with a sweet and gentle request that I couldn’t pass up. She has written a book of life in poems that will absolutely take your breath away! The name of the book is, Reflections of A Mississippi Magnolia.
From the moment I started reading the Foreword I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. I wanted more of this lady packaged in this sweet book of poems. In Patricia’s own words she says, “I always hesitate to call myself a poet. I feel more like a vessel or a conduit through which the poems flow. I never intentionally sat down to write any of them. They all came to me, fully complete and neatly packaged, title and all.” Her heart and passion for her work shows in every word and puts you in a place of being right there with her as the words were flowing. She also says, "There are so many negative connotations associated with Mississippi and the south in general. In my book, using childhood memories, personal thoughts and dreams, I attempt to give a positive glimpse into the southern way of life. In my book I try to show that there is much more to Mississippi and the south than all of the negatives usually portrayed. I invite readers to Meet Mississippi (and the south) Through Poetry, Prose and The Written Word." It definitely gives you a greater appreciation for the south, southern life and the men and women who love where they’re from.
I have so many favorites I would love for you to read like: “Southern Man”, “Summer Night (Southern Style)” and “The Magnolia Tree”, from her Southern Life collection that makes you want to experience it all for yourself. “Poetry” and “Little Miss Perfect” are from her Childhood Memories collection, describes personal memories of loved ones in her life, makes your heart say, wow! “One Room School”, from her Family History collection, reminds you of where we came from. “Loving Me”, “Happy (With The Nappy)”, “Shades of Lovely (Good Enough to Eat)”, *“Inside Me” and “Turning 40” (you could tell this is my favorite collection), from her Getting Personal collection, reminds you of how special, beautiful and awesome you really are in your own skin. “Simple Tastes” and “Our Place”, from her Intimacies collection will have you melting from all the love that flows like sweet honey, Yummy. “If Mississippi’s In You” and “Reflections of A Mississippi Magnolia”, from her Summing Things Up collection is the exclamation point, the wham bam thank you ma’am of a Mississippi Magnolia!
I enjoyed every bit of this wonderful book from front to back and I’ll enjoy reading it over and over and over again, I know you will too!!
You will enjoy every minute you read this breakout work.
You will recommend the book to friends.
You will read it over and over.
Years from now you will boast about purchasing and reading Patricia Neely-Dorsey’s first book.
Make sure you tell YOUR friends about this excellent book!
The genius of Neely-Dorsey’s book is her ability to not only capture her life in poetry; she also places our lives in the proverbial nut-shell.
Los Angeles, CA
With Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia, Patricia Neely-Dorsey gives the world a book that is part biography, part rhymes, part imagination but all Mississippi!
Joey Pinkney-Joey Pinkney Reviews
Patrica Neely-Dorsey really hits home with her wonderfully written book of poetry about Southern Living and culture in our beautiful Magnolia State of Mississippi. Steeped in Mint Julip Tea and smothered with home-made cane molasses and butter, Dorsey's poems
give you the comfort of a long ago childhood where many of us lived on a farm, attended a country church as well as leaving home for other destinations. A must read for anyone who loves poetry and looking to rekindle their Southern Roots.
Melanie Calvert Benton(aka) "Dahlia Patton"
Author of " A Southern Moon Rising"
Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia:
A Life in Poems
MISSISSIPPI POEMS, MISSISSIPPI POETRY, SOUTHERN POEMS, SOUTHERN POETRY
GLOWING REVIEW-FALL 2009 issue of Mississippi Libraries
Neely-Dorsey, Patricia. Reflections of
a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems.
Jonesboro, AR: GrantHouse Publishers,
2007. 90 pp. $15.00 (paperback)
In Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia:
A Life in Poems, Patricia Neely-
Dorsey has written, in poetic form, a kind
of primer on southern life, manners, and
customs. Her collection of seventy-two
short poems is divided into seven sections:
Southern Life, Country Living, Childhood
Memories, Family History, Getting Personal,
Intimacies, and Summing Things Up.
This is not the angst-ridden poetry of a
tortured soul; instead, “Loving Me” and
“Happy (With the Nappy)” reveal a
woman who is happy, secure, and comfortable
with herself. Free of strict meter,
but usually rhyming, Neely-Dorsey’s poetry
captures images of nature, people, rural
activities, social gatherings, and, of
course, all kinds of food. “Hog Killing
Time” depicts the tasks performed in
preparing a hog for eating; “Country Doctor”
paints a loving, respectful portrait of
the poet’s father in his profession; and
“Right to Vote” is a gentle reminder of the
great difficulties that have been overcome,
so that black people could vote in elections.
It is clear Neely-Dorsey also enjoys
playing with the rhythm of words and
speech, as evidenced in “Neighborhood
Groceries,” “Partyline,” and “Country Living.”
While Neely-Dorsey received her college
education in the Northeast (shown in
her lighthearted frustrations with northern
expressions in “Boston”), it is obvious
from “Mississippi Morning” and “If Mississippi’s
In You” that she deeply loves the
South, especially her native Mississippi.
As she expresses in “Mississippi Through
and Through,” “…I breathe Mississippi. I
move Mississippi. I think Mississippi. I feel
Mississippi. I am, simply, Mississippi
through and through.” This little book of
poems is recommended for all Mississippi
libraries, and will move the reader closer to
understanding just what a “Mississippi
Magnolia” girl is.
Delta State University
Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems by Patricia Neely-Dorsey (GrantHouse Publishers, 2008).
It was a pleasure to read Patricia Neely-Dorsey's collection of poems, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems. Neely-Dorsey presents perhaps the most positive view of growing up in Hill Country of any current author I've found --- she is Mississippi first, second, last, and forever! She is a true Hill Country resident and her life experiences are lovingly recorded in her most readable poems.
Not only do her poems read with a voice of true Southerness, her poems are also pleasing to hear --- I think that some of them are best heard as songs of the South. Many of her poems caused a smile to form and some even caused me to laugh out loud. But it was the ones which caused my heart to sing that I'll treasure most along with the ones which caused tears to form in my eyes.
Reading Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems was an emotional experience for me. Neely-Dorsey's accounts of her life experiences are so vivid and so true to the region that what she writes of Lee County, Mississippi, could be universal events throughout the Hill Country and elsewhere. She came of age some twenty-five years after I did and she was across the vast racial divide many erroneously think defines Mississippi. Her experiences and memories, however, recorded as poems paint an accurate picture of hill country living as I too remember it.
The solid foundation for life which Neely-Dorsey received parallels the foundations which most parents were building all across the Hill Country --- and no matter that her life experiences were from Saltillo and Tupelo, they are remarkably similar to those of Parham and Splunge. And we are all the better for having these shared experiences which Neely-Dorsey explains as "having Mississippi in us."
My greatest surprise (and the greatest comfort) found in Neely-Dorsey's book is that those of us blessed by having Mississippi in us are more alike than different. She writes with a clear voice for all Mississippians --- and the fact that she writes from the black perspective in a positive and loving way about her family, community, and region makes her book required reading.
The hardest task for me was to select three of Neely-Dorsey's poems as representative of her book -- so I selected four. Her recollections of country living paint compelling memories of country breakfasts and cures and of slopping hogs, cooking cracklings, hog killings, pea shelling and going to church for preachings. Her account of a "Baptismal Sunday" brought back many memories of Parham Pond and standing on Jordan's stormy banks watching friends and neighbors be submerged in the water. It was most difficult not to select a poem from that section of her work.
Further, it was difficult to not include her "Shades of Lovely" in which all of the hues of women of color are described in the most delicious terms: honey, spice, brown sugar, brown rice, nutmeg, cinnamon, gingerbread and toast, pecan, almond, walnut, coconut cream, white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, caramel, toffee, coffee, coffee with cream, coffee black, espresso, mocha, cafe an lait, banana, licorice, hot fudge --- did I miss any? One cannot read "Shades of Lovely" by Neely-Dorsey without smiling!
But the following four poems were selected because of my interest in preserving and presenting the history of the Hill Country. The first two poems presented below, in my opinion, offer a little slice of history and viewpoint not widely available and the last two presented offer an explanation of how Mississippi gets in a person (Rules) and what it means to be a Mississippian.
Aleda Shirley, a poet and friend who passed away in 2008, once said of Mississippi, “I have a love/hate relationship with it.” Having grown up in Mississippi myself, I can relate to that statement, especially as an African American. That is why I was unsure of what to expect when I read Patricia Neely-Dorsey’s ode to Mississippi, a poetry collection entitled Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems. What Mrs. Dorsey accomplishes with this work is both interesting and refreshing because she chooses to focus on a unifying Southern experience, one that, regardless of race or class, resonates as a common denominator to those of us who actually know what a muscadine is or have ever purchased fruit off the bed of a pickup truck.
The beauty of her poems emanates from the simplicity of her imagery, which can be seen even in the first poem of the collection, “Southern Life,” where she describes the beauty of a Southern setting through the use of images like “Wooden porches cleanly swept” and “tea that’s syrupy sweet.” While her general ode to Mississippi is tender and nostalgic, Mrs. Dorsey’s personal poems are my favorites of the collection. Her candid explorations of her love for her husband and son, her respect for those who helped to rear her, and her own self-examination add enormously to an already quite suitable poetic collection. My absolute favorite poem in the collection, incidentally, is also among the shortest in the collection. It is called “Turning 40” and goes as follows:
When I turned 40,
I felt so brand new;
I bought a bikini,
And got a tattoo;
For some unknown reason,
I felt more alive;
I can’t imagine what’ll happen,
When I turn 45.
Mrs. Dorsey’s passion for life, love, and the South come shining through in this collection, reminding those of us who do have the aforementioned love/hate relationship with Mississippi why it is that we continue to come home over and over again and love the fabric of our home, in spite of some of its shadows.
Ran Walker, Esq.
Asst. Professor of English, Hampton University
Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems
Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
I don't think I've ever picked up a book that brings back as many memories as Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia. And the memories were all good memories. It made me remember growing up in the south and participating in the activities the poems represent. From the "Partyline" which talks about growing up with a telephone number shared by others, to the "Baptismal Sunday" which took place in a pond instead of a baptismal pool, and on to the "Making Cracklins" which I can still see my grandmother doing.
I have many favorites in this little book of memories but two that touched me the most were "Shelling Peas" and "Slopping Hogs." These two poems really took me back to my childhood while growing up in the south. So, if you are a Southerner and would like to awaken some memories of when life was more laid back, this book is a must read. If you're not from the south, reading Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia will let you see what you missed. For me, this is a book I'll cherish forever.