I’m not here to laud the rhyme schemes of riding the range, or the strategic deployment of “y’all” in verse. But I’m interested in regionalism’s aesthetic and social capacities. Let’s define the term this way: commitment to a location for five or more years; use of that particular landscape, urban or rural, in the creative work; and engagement with a local community of authors outside of academic obligations.
When a workshop instructor urged me to be more specific than “bird” or “tree” in a poem, I’d sift through myth and nature guides, looking for a species of maximum symbolic heft—rather than looking out my own window. I wish I had meditated a little more on where I was, rather than where I wished to be known.