On this fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in Louisiana, we talk to Serpas, a poet who was born in Lafourche, La., and remains active in efforts to restore the state's wetlands. Serpas has been on the teaching staffs at the University of Tampa, Yale Divinity School and the University of Houston. Her 2006 poetry collection, The Dirty Side of the Storm, focuses on the Louisiana coast.
What's on your nightstand?
Written in Water, Written in Stone, edited by Martin Lammon. It's a collection of essays by poets. And Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible by Ellen Davis, which is on ecological stewardship of the land as it is depicted in Old Testament stories. And my poetry pleasure book right now is American Rendering: New and Selected Poems by Andrew Hudgins.
What poem would you recommend for those grieving the environmental damage in Louisiana?
With the BP disaster, the line that comes to mind is not from a poet but from the theologian Evagrius, something like, "Anger is a gift from God for confronting true injustice." But in the grief department, I'd say Jane Kenyon's Let Evening Come. Wherever people are right now in their grief, if they are angry, if they are sad, they need to stay with that. Problems arise when people move too quickly from their grief. Emotional responses come back at a later time.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer