Book Fridays: poetry slams, Civil Rights, energy independence and Black Codes

This week Facing South begins a bi-weekly listing of new books about the U.S. South or written by Southern writers.

Slavery by another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War by Douglas A. Blackmon, 480 pages, Doubleday (March 25, 2008)

Based on a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Slavery by Another Name unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude. The book has been hailed by Bill Moyers as "the most stunning book you will read this year." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it "an important, ambitious account of the black men engulfed in a legal system operating for the white South's pursuit of racial dominance and private profit. It weaves together a vast quantity of existing scholarship, interviews and archival records in order to tell the personal stories of black Southerners snared by the South's interlocking systems of racial exploitation."

For more information, visit the book's website.

Winning Our Energy Independence: An Energy Insider Shows How by S. David Freeman, 248 pages, Gibbs Smith (September 7, 2007)

In Winning Our Energy Independence, Tennessean-born environmentalist and long-time energy insider S. David Freeman sheds light on America's deadly addiction to the "three poisons": foreign oil, coal, and nuclear power. He challenges the United States and the world to create a high-energy global civilization where each nation has its own homegrown, carbon-free renewable source of energy. The LA Times blogs that Freeman's book "is a highly inspiring and optimistic read that encourages environmentalists to think big and act fast."

"We now are aware that this civilization of ours is on death row," Freeman told a crowd gathered to him speak this month at The Carter Center. "Almost every climatologist tells us we have about 10 years to get greenhouse gases under control... or the greatest likelihood is our civilization will go down and go down for keeps."

For more information visit Gibbs Smith publishing.

On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail by Charles Cobb, 388 pages, Algonquin Books (December 20, 2007)

Charles Cobb's On the Road to Freedom is a journey through Southern history and an insider's tour of the Civil Rights trail. Cobb left college in the early 1960s to join the Civil Rights movement in the Deep South, and went on to spend five years working with people who would become icons of the movement and in places that would become pivotal battlegrounds in the fight for civil rights.

FireDogLake called On the Road to Freedom "a book about freedom--the idea and pursuit of it--not only from slavery itself but also from the unique history of slavery in the United States, a history so ugly, so painful but yet fundamental, the author argues, that even after over two hundred years later in the 21st century we still haven't fully come to grips with it: We still haven't completely dealt with the collective trauma and social neurosis in its wake."

For more information visit Algonquin Books. You can listen to an interview with Cobb on North Carolina Public Radio or on NPR's Tell Me More.

Let Them Eat MoonPie: The Southern Fried Poetry Slam From 1992-2000 by Bill Abbot, 274 pages, The Wordsmith Press (March 1, 2008)

Poetry slam is the competitive art of poetry originating in Chicago over 20 years ago, and is now practiced at venues worldwide. It is an interactive experience that involves the audience as well as the poets, according to Nashville-born writer Bill Abbott. Abbott captures the colorful history of Southern performance poetry in Let them Eat Moonpie, a book that is part history and part Southern study.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the book takes a look at some of the South's most decorated competitive poets and the events and people who were and continue to be a part of the Southern Fried circuit, a quirky regional poetry slam held annually in cities around the South. The Winston-Salem Journal goes on to call the book an "oral and somewhat insider history of a competition that's as much about performing as it is about writing, eight years of Southern poetry slamming stitched together by the colorful memories of creative people. Like poetry and performing itself, it is sometimes bawdy, sometimes piecemeal but a celebration of an activity that prides itself on being on the fringe."

The Southern Fried Poetry Slam continues to remain strong. As the Tallahassee Democrat reported, this year's Southern Fried Slam attracted more than 200 poets and 40 teams to Tallahassee, Fl. earlier this month.

For more information about the book, visit its website or the website of The Wordsmith Press.