What makes Southern Light Southern? This question is best answered by Ed Lindberg in the introduction to the book:
The poets in this volume have one thing in common. All are native to or have spent some sizable portion of their lives in the distinct physical and cultural geography of the Southern United States. This book presents some of the best examples of poets currently working in the South. Some of these poets are well recognized while others are not widely known. Some are academicians; some shun the academy. Some are young; several are past sixty. In this volume we show the vigor and variety of contemporary Southern poets.
The label “Southern” can be expressed as a form of striking depiction supported by a certain perspective on the contents of the heart. A huge body of written work from poems to novels to songs continues to come from this geography. This intense flow of words may have some common source and influence. Some suggested origins of this diverse output of work have been religion, separatist politics, ethnicity, the language of the King James Bible, and Elizabethan English. Other components include land worked, struggled and fought for, the hard dignity of integrity, and various story telling forms and traditions.
I think whatever informs and impacts the lands of place and heart is the definition of what generates this considerable literary effort labeled “Southern”. A central component of important stories is the cost of things and how things come to be. If they are anything, good poems are stories and are put down to tell of what has come upon or to their writer from whatever source named or unnamed, nameable or unnamable. Experience is the heat that ferments the passion to tell.