Walking Back Up Depot Street: Poems

Walking Back Up Depot Street: Poems

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Author: Minnie Bruce Pratt

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press (1999)

In Pratt's fourth volume of poems, Walking Back Up Depot Street, we are led by powerful images into what is both a story of the segregated rural South and the story of a white woman named Beatrice who is leaving that home for the postindustrial North. Beatrice searches for the truth behind the public story—the official history—of the land of her childhood. She struggles to free herself from the lies she was taught while growing up-and she finds the other people who are also on this journey.

In these dramatically multivocal narrative poems, we hear the words and rhythms of Bible Belt preachers, African-American blues and hillbilly gospel singers, and sharecropper country women and urban lesbians. We hear the testimony of freed slaves and white abolitionists speaking against Klan violence, fragments of speeches by union organizers and mill workers, and snatches of songs from those who marched on the road to Selma. Beatrice walks back into the past and finds the history of resistance that she has never been taught; she listens to her fellow travelers as they all get ready to create the future.

"This ambitious work which brilliantly uses biography, historical documents, newspaper reportage, oral history, fragments from testimony and interviews, never lets the reader down, not as art or as evidence. . . . Here, writing her greatest poems, a 'heart of flesh' is earned by consciousness of the powerful interrelated and often buried forces that connect us and shape who we are."

–Toi Derricotte

"Minnie Bruce Pratt's poems engage the tangled skeins of race, sexuality, and class in a context of historical struggle, demonstrating that these tangles and knots cannot be thinned out and seperated. . . . I wish I could just quote the whole book to show you the passion and guts, the honesty and fear, the complexity and struggle, the historical and sexual permutations that gird these poems. so you can see for yourself. If you haven't already bought Walking Back Up Depot Street, I encourage you to do so."

–Lesbian Review of Books

Selected as ForeWord Magazine’s 1999 Gay/Lesbian Book of the Year