Ashley Mace Havird is a poet and novelist who grew up on a tobacco farm in South Carolina. Her collection of poems, Wild Juice (LSU Press, 2021), is the 53rd volume of the Southern Messenger Poets Series. The Garden of the Fugitives (Texas Review Press, 2014) won the X. J. Kennedy Prize for Poetry. Her debut novel, Lightningstruck (Mercer University Press, 2016), won the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction.
Her poems and short stories have appeared in many journals including Shenandoah, The Southern Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review, and in anthologies such as The Southern Poetry Anthology, IV: Louisiana and Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry. Poet Laureate of Caddo Parish from 2018-2021, Ashley lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, with her husband, the poet David Havird, and their own best dog in the world.
ABOUT THE WORK
Ashley's poetry and fiction owe their beginnings to the landscape of her childhood, the farms and swamps and woodlands of the American South.
Lightningstruck, a coming-of-age novel set in a historical context, grew from her own experience growing up on a tobacco farm during the Civil Rights Era. Relationships with the land, with family, with society at large, and with history itself—these themes permeate the novel and extend into her poetry.
Most of her poems are set in rural South Carolina and in Louisiana, where she has lived since 1988. Others travel. Spoken largely from a feminist perspective, these lyric poems—whatever the setting—speak to tensions in relationships: those of humanity to the environment, between humans and animals, and within families themselves. These themes find a loose narrative structure in her four published collections: Wild Juice, The Garden of the Fugitives, Sleeping with Animals, and Dirt Eaters.
"Writing close to the bone, Ashley Mace Havird stares unflinchingly at what most people turn away from; hers is a spare, honed language that refuses to embellish truth with ornament. The echoing music and vivid imagery of her poems carry powerful emotions, but with a fine restraint whose understatement intensifies their ironies, their truth, like a taut spring that releases its charge in the mind." Eleanor Wilner, author of Reversing the Spell: New and Selected Poems