Adrienne Bond (1933-1996)
Bond's main body of work is centered in three books. In The Voice of the Poet: The Shape and Sound of Southern Poetry Today (1989), she focused on a variety of poets in her discussion of the important themes of traditional southern poetry, such as the land, hunting, and storytelling. By the time the book appeared, she was already gaining attention through her own poems, which appeared in such prominent journals and magazines as the Southern Review, the Georgia Review, and the New Yorker.
Sugarcane House and Other Stories about Mr. Fat, published posthumously in 1997, is a book of children's stories, although adults find them entertaining as well. These stories are reminiscent of the folk/fantasy method of narration practiced by Morgan County's Raymond Andrews, especially in his book Appalachee Red. They have been compared as well to the Brer Rabbit stories of Joel Chandler Harris.
Bond's selected poems were published in 1996 under the title Time Was, She Declares. Her poems are eclectic in setting and subject. They include scenes from Georgia's rural past in Macon County and draw from the concrete realities of Norway and Switzerland, and Macon as well. Characterizing southern poets in her first chapter to The Voice of the Poet, she could have been describing her own style: southern poets, she wrote, "tend to focus on place, and they often see place as informed by time, by history and memory. They write about family members and family events. Southern poets tend to use concrete details and to approach abstraction cautiously through explorations of the natural world. . . . southern poets love folklore and tall tales, and have a gift for story telling and character portrayal, as well as a fine ear for the spoken language."
One of Bond's best-known poems, "Time Was, She Declares," whimsically speculates on the nature of time and memory by musing over the Big Bang:
She's heard (and entertains
"Christmas Basket: 1943," her recollection of a childhood trip with her grandmother to visit an infirm black friend, becomes a meditation on personal responsibility, race, and the southern past. Another poem, "Blues," is about the musical tradition Bond was researching when she became ill in 1995. It reveals her characteristic terseness, humor, and perceptiveness:
Woke up this morning, saw
Bond was advisor and mentor to a wide range of Georgia poets, including those in the "Macon Poetry Group"—Michael Cass, Judith Ortiz Cofer, George Espy III (George Muhammed), Anthony Grooms, Anna Holloway, Seaborn Jones, Anthony Kellman, Robert Kelly, and Judson Mitcham. She brought many of the nation's poets to numerous Georgia colleges and communities through the Georgia Poetry Circuit (funded in part by the Georgia Humanities Council), which she founded and directed. She also served as associate vice president for development and director of the university grants program at Mercer University. Among her many honors was the Governor's Award in the Humanities in 1996. Married for a time to Alpha M. Bond, she was the mother of three sons: Alpha, Ernest, and Thomas.
Anna R. Holloway, Fort Valley State University
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.