Katie Bickham’s poems, set on a Louisiana plantation from 1811 through 2005, speak through the imagined voices of slaves, masters, mistresses, servants, and children. Focused on events that take place in a single room within the plantation home, Belle Mar, she offers an unflinching portrayal of the atrocities that form an undeniable part of Louisiana’s history. The fully rounded characters she evokes allow readers to contemplate the social forces that shaped a slave-holding society and perpetuated injustices long after abolition.
Tell me, Mother, how to remember you,
what name to call you and what to absolve.
Tell me how to live on this land. How
many times must I scour and sun the long line
of our lives until the water runs clean.
—from “Parlor 2012”
KATIE BICKHAM teaches English and poetry at Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City, Louisiana. Her work has appeared in The Missouri Review; The Road Not Taken: A Journal of Formal Poetry; and elsewhere. Winner of the The Missouri Review Editor’s Prize, Bickham lives in Shreveport with her husband.