SOUTHERN FESTIVAL OF BOOKS INTRODUCTION: LINDA PARSONS MARION
Claudia Emerson, in describing Linda Parson Marion’s Mother Land, says that Marion “orders the chaos of a bewildering past,…cultivating finally the joy of wise survival.” Heather Ross Miller says that Marion “chooses the joy and health of life,” while Robert Morgan speaks of “the alchemy of her voice and art transformed into song.” Ron Rash, likewise, makes note of how in her poems “heartbreak is transcended by acceptance and forgiveness.”
Joy, wisdom, song, acceptance, forgiveness—these are good words that lead a good way into Marion’s poems, but there are other words that serve to be useful to understanding her work: the word “ground” for how so many of her poems solidify our own footing even though, like her, we may not be sure “if the ground [we] touch/[is] minefield or the soft hay of manger.” The word “remembrance” reminds us of how memory sometimes provides us with our fiercest selves, blessed to be honoring, attending, grieving, and searching out a better understanding of those who came before us. In so many of her poems we find “rest,” especially in how her “earth sprouts openhearted in the rich/yet to be.” It is in that “rich/yet to be” of her poems, in their belief, in their choice not to “live crippled by memory or sight,/but in snatches of harmony hard fought” that I most want to accompany her.
In her poem “All That Glitters,” she concludes with the following stanza:
Beyond the glitter, I see that all we have is disputed
ground in the here and now. We walk into whatever
light waves us through, neither stardust nor beatific
blossom, blessed even so, along our stumbling way.
What a steady (and steadying) guide we have in Linda Parsons Marion.