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.”