Fire Baton


Poems by Elizabeth Hadaway
978-1-55728-824-0 (paper)
September 2006


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Elizabeth Hadaway doesn’t just tell stories in her poems, she aims to delight as much as instruct, and her poems are scores for performance. Sparkling with shout-outs to Beowulf and Keats, varied meters, and surprising rhymes, she lifts centuries of hurt and anger into a contrary music. Her reach is vast, including everything from T. S. Eliot to the swans on her vinyl lace shower curtains. She warns us off from stereotypes and misconceptions about Appalachia and the South.

Here are short lyrics and long narratives, poems about ballads, baton twirling, hound dogs, Shelley, and NASCAR stars. In “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Car, of Dale Earnhardt at Daytona,” she writes about a memorial T-shirt, “his face folded, half / in love with asphalt death.” Fire Baton announces the debut of a talented new poet of wit, vivacity, and color. And no matter how far she roams, she never lets us forget her roots, that she comes from a place “where where’s whirr.”

Elizabeth Leigh Palmer Hadaway lives in Kingsvill, Maryland. She was an instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University and worked as an historical interpreter at Agecroft Hall in Richmond, Virginia. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and has received scholarships to the Breadloaf and Sewanee writer’s conferences.

Fire Baton is an immense achievement. Here is wit acid and sweet, angry and gentle, tonic and forgiving. Every line shines with the excellence of poetic craft. . . . Hadaway’s satire is deceptive in its strength. If you think you feel a pinprick, better look again. It may be a bullet hole.”
—Fred Chappell, author of Backsass: Poems

“Elizabeth Hadaway’s Fire Baton is formally elegant, yet effortlessly sassy and vernacular at the same time. In poem after poem, she proves herself place-proud without a trace of the provincial, and she’s exactly what a poet should be—smart and passionate.”
—Gregory Orr, author of Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved