Southeast University Press Releases Book of Poetry Commemorating Hurricanes Katrina and Rita



Oct. 30, 2006 – The Southeast Missouri State University Press has published a collection of poetry commemorating Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, titled Hurricane Blues: Poems about Katrina and Rita.

Susan Swartwout, director of the Southeast Missouri State University Press and co-editor of the anthology, said the book started as a project between friends.

“Philip C. Kolin, English professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, invited me several years ago to write a biography of Truman Capote for Kolin’s Tennessee Williams Encyclopedia (Gale Research Press). We worked on several projects together, and a year ago, having witnessed firsthand much of the destruction caused by the hurricanes in 2005, Philip came up with the idea for this book,” said Swartwout.

For the past year, they have collected poems from both emerging and established poets about the moral and physical destruction of the Gulf Coast. The anthology contains 111 poems describing the disaster, from waiting and warnings to the problems of response and rescue. The poems also address what we have learned from the tragedy. Kolin and Swartwout both agreed book should contain “poetry for the people” in order to inspire a wide audience. Swartwout said they hope this anthology will be as historical as it is literary.

“Some of the eyewitness accounts are absolutely chilling. Some of the letters we received along with the poems are heartbreaking,” said Swartwout.

The anthology includes works by contemporary poets Bob Hicok, Ryan Van Cleave, Walter Bargen, Mark Jarman, Linda Pastan and others.

Founded in 2001, the Southeast Missouri State University Press serves as both a first-rate publisher in an underpublished region and as a working laboratory for students interested in learning the art and skills of literary publishing. The press has received numerous awards for its books, including the James Jones First Novel Award, the Langum Award for Historical Fiction, the Missouri Governor’s Book Award, the United We Read selection and the Kniffen Book Award for best U.S./Canada cultural geography.

To pre-order Hurricane Blues, visit the University Press’ Web site at The book will be shipped upon its arrival.