by Darrell Bourque
Megan's Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie is a reflection of contemporary life in Acadiana in Louisiana and it is a story of the legend(s) of the journey of the Acadians from the Canadian Maritimes and the various ways they made their way to Louisiana. The book is divided into three sections: the first in mixed forms mostly about contemporary Acadie in Louisiana, a bridge section, and then a twenty-seven sonnet sequence featuring principal characters and historical figures of the eighteenth-century deportation experience.
“Too often, the poetry in my life is a luxury, like fine dessert. It adds depth and texture to my day, certainly, but it is not sustenance. Darrell Bourque’s work, though, is something else entirely. His poetry is beyond necessary. His is an art bearing the weight of real life, lived through pain, beauty, love, and loss, just on the edge of full knowing. Bourque’s lines are an expression of human experience as it brushes against the ghost of knowledge.
The poems in Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie offer personal revelations in the wake of the illness and death of loved ones. They open the minds and spirits of great artists from Van Gogh to Elemore Morgan Jr. And most importantly, these poems give real voice to historical figures like Beausoleil, Elizabeth Brasseaux, and Olivier Terrio who must speak so that we remember them for what they birthed here in Acadiana.
The simple truth is, I need Darrell Bourque’s poetry to live. I need it for the history it documents so eloquently. I need it for the present it renders so delicately. Most of all, I need it for the future it offers in its understanding of what’s truly valuable in the lives we share with each other.”
-Jack B. Bedell, author of Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems
“I love Louisiana and Darrell Bourque makes me love it even more. The history, the characters, the sense of place, the language, the essence of an entire people that Megan’s Guitar gives us is more than a scrapbook, more than a history lesson, more than an exercise in genealogy. Bourque embraces the culture of Acadia without irony or deprecation or sly winks of condescension. Bourque’s vision is blessed with genuine humor, humanity, and grace. His eye is painterly, his lyric skill is world-class, and his technical prowess is simply dazzling. His lines make me ache, make me want to sing. For Bourque the natural world is not simply setting, decoration, but a living, breathing character. I am astonished by how many voices he conjures up, a true chorus from a section of the world so relatively small, and yet abundantly rich. He is a Native Son of whom Acadiana can be proud. I truly believe Darrell Bourque is one of our most important living literary voices.”
-Randall Kenan, author of Let the Dead Bury Their Dead
“Darrell Bourque is a poet who, having mastered his craft, turns his honed talent to enduring questions of origins and endings; and in their passionate exploration of present and past, of thought and imagination, his poems become profound meditations on both the ordinary and the extraordinary.”
-John Biguenet, author of The Torturer’s Apprentice and Oyster
“It is hard to speak about another poet’s work. Especially one that you know. Especially one that you admire. The clearest thing that I can say about Megan’s Guitar is that I read the lines with attention and delight. Surprised that I should know the poet and that he is the simple and cheerful man who lives not too far away. It would be easier to write this if he lived on the other side of the world and that we had not shared pleasant conversation and quiet joy. I am happy to see that Darrell Bourque has jumped into the pit of his Acadian heritage like a bull dog. Not easy to wrestle with the faded glories of our past. Not easy to remember without romanticizing. Not easy to evoke without pandering. And yet this is what this poet has done: pages full of light and insight, a vision of ourselves which makes us better for the telling.”
-Zachary Richard, singer-songwriter & poet
“I hear Seamus Heaney here. I hear Wendell Berry. I hear the waters of Louisiana. I hear every Acadia there has ever been. This is the wood and the steel and the string and the pluck of a true life, written down and allowed to become music. Darrell Bourque has a unique voice that is all at once plain and melodic. These poems begin in the everyday and end in the infinite. He takes the mysterious and strips it raw. Then, somehow, he makes hope and legend rhyme. What a wonderful American poet.”
-Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
“Darrell Bourque writes about what is sacred to him: the history of his French Acadian ancestors, his memories of deceased family elders, the Louisiana landscape that formed the backdrop of their lives, and the cultural rituals (from country horse-race betting to turtle soup making) that bound the generations together. In the poem “Finding the Entrance to the Grotto,” he describes how 'a gap we fall upon opens, lets us in.' So, too, do the covers of this luminous book fall open, letting us journey into the realm of art, music, dreams, and the enduring human spirit.”
-Julie Kane, author of Jazz Funeral & Louisiana Poet Laureate
About the Author
Darrell Bourque’s poetry collections include Call and Response and In Ordinary Light, New and Selected Poems. He is professor emeritus in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he served as the first Friends of the Humanities Honor Professor. He also served as Louisiana Poet Laureate in 2007-2008 and from 2009-2011. He lives in rural St. Landry Parish with his wife, Karen, who is a glass artist.
Softcover, 110 pp., ©2013