Little Egypt is a nickname given to the southernmost section of the state of Illinois which is geographically, culturally, and economically distinct from the rest of the state. The region is bordered on three sides by the largest rivers in the U.S.: the Wabash and Ohio on the east and south and the Mississippi to the west. Geographically it is more hilly and rocky than the rest of the state and many consider it part of the Ozarks.
When settlers began to come in great numbers they came by way of the ever-available rivers and found southern Illinois a convenient region for settlement. The advent of the steamboat and the development of trails and roadways soon led immigrants to bypass the southern part of the state. It thus was left a somewhat isolated region, a kind of historical eddy.
In this region a culture, reasonably advanced at the time of its coming, tended to become static. The customs, practices, and beliefs of the pioneer survived here long after they had passed in less isolated regions. It is against the background of this distinctive area that the writer would have these offerings viewed.
"If Little Egypt reflects sense of place, which it exemplifies, it also offers up a sensibility and an historical panorama rife with the lore of southern Illinois and its flora and fauna, amid the land demarcated by the Ohio, Wabash and Mississippi Rivers. The poems in this book are similar to those by Lorine Niedecker in her book North Central, which celebrates living amid the reedy lakes of Wisconsin, as he himself flourishes among three of the great rivers of the plains. Little Egypt is as celebratory as it is sometimes perilously real. David Gross is a midwestern James Dickey."
~ Wally Swist, author of Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love
"To read Little Egypt is to experience a sensation of opening the land's secrets through time-lapse photography. Through these captivating poems, David Gross' childhood and life growing up are "tinted by creek reflections" of southern Illinois, a place called Little Egypt. The poet unearths the past and its histories back to "men connected to the seasons/ who read the moon and stars." as Woodland Indians "tapped their/ totems into the bluff" to create a petroglyph of "an elegantly rendered/ dragonfly... the delicate beads of its body/ hovering on wings of riddles." Like the petroglyph, this volume leaves the reader with a sense of wonder and inspiration."
~ Patty Dickson Pieczka, author of Finding the Raven
"This southern Illinois writer has given us a poetry from that place which is plainly spoken, deceptively simple and very deep."
~ John Knoepfle, author of Poems From the Sangamon
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David Gross has published four previous collections, Cup of Moon, What We Never Had, Because It Is, and Pilgrimage. His poems have appeared in dozens of print and online literary journals such as, Big Muddy, Black Poppy Review, Blue Collar Review, Cape Rock, Common Ground Review, Hummingbird, Kentucky Review, Lilliput Review, Longhouse, Modern Haiku, Naugatuck River Review and Northeast.
38 pages, 26 poems
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