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Southern Girl
Gone Wrong

Chella Courington

Chella Courington started graduate school intending to become a poet and studied for a year with James Dickey at the University of South Carolina. While Dickey was an excellent teacher and very encouraging to aspiring poets, Courington stopped writing poetry and pursued a Ph. D. in British and American Literature. In 2002 she migrated west with an economist and two cats and now teaches English at Santa Barbara City College. She returned to writing poetry in May 2003 after a lapse of twenty years.

Poet's Statement

Raised on Sand Mountain in the Appalachians of Alabama, Chella Courington grew up in a town where relationships were warm and turbulent, loving and violent. If you weren't a white, Christian, conventional heterosexual, you were a misfit--what many Southern folks still call "funny." Much of her recent poetry emerges from the past, examining the contradictions of family and attachment. The poetry in Southern Girl Gone Wrong recalls the Gothic strain that runs through Southern writing from Zora Neale Hurston and Harper Lee to Alice Walker and Dorothy Allison.

No one writes of sexuality more sweetly or bitterly, when taken by even the most holy, than Chella Courington. Her poems sizzle under southern sun and make you want to go take a cold shower. Her talk is tough, sensual, sparse yet laced with lyricism and love for the family, in the end, and all things southern that come from staring truth in the face. Startling images are there not for effect, but rise out of suffering, and like her, we are "saved" by memory's exquisite touch.

--Perie Longo
Author of The Privacy of Wind

In Chella Courington's "Jesus Loves Me" the speaker fantasizes about making love to Jesus. The experience she describes is both sinful yet oddly innocent, and that atmosphere of naiveté and abandon pervades the poems in Southern Girl Gone Wrong. Courington's world is lush, humid, sensual and inviting: once you enter it, you'll want to stay.

--David Starkey
Author of Open Mike Night at the Cabaret Voltaire
and Fear of Everything

From the book:


While Natalie Wood twirls in the Tennessee night   
suspended above trucks
Billy pushes me down on the seat
fumbles with my bra.

He's heavy and clumsy
wants me for his steady girl
leaves a hickey on my breast.

I know how to hide traces of sex
with powder  and perfume
how to please penis and mama
at the same time

go through a string of Billies
settle out of state
for one of them.

Years later Natalie falls off a boat.

I dream I'm treading water when
she reaches for help.
Afraid of going under     
I watch her drown.   

ISBN 0-941053-46-6

Southern Girl Gone Wrong is a 32 page hand-sewn chapbook - $7.00

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Kanona, NY 14856

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