“What is The Belle Mar? It is a southern house that has stood from slavery times to now, as generations of white and black people have passed through it. Katie Bickham has created time—time passing through the voices of slave owners and their families, black and theirs, children, soldiers, old men, pregnant women, human cruelty and compassion and justice and courage remaining the same while the world changes. She has also drawn thumbnail portraits of some of the most memorable individual characters you’ll ever meet. Some of these poems may rip your heart out, others may cause it to expand. This is an extraordinary book.” –Alicia Ostricker
“I’ve always believed that poems are essentially spirit houses that carry an essence of time, place, and the sacred occupants of that time and place. These poems of Katie Bickham prove it. They make a beautiful path through a few generations of history. I am reminded of the song lines of the Australian indigenous people. We get from there to here, by heart. This is essentially a book of remembering what should never be forgotten. Bravo Katie Bickham.” –Joy Harjo
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.