In Known by Salt, Tina Mozelle Braziel searches for home in the trailer park where she grew up and in the house she and her husband built by hand. Aware that her homes and life fall short of social norms, she asks “how come” as she discovers grit and feminism in a strip club, a fast food joint, building sites, and family stories of work. She takes shelter in the beauty of dammed rivers, wooded hills, the swerve of snakes. This collection examines class and gender, humankind and nature, and what it takes to mend those divisions and become whole.
Alabama native Tina Mozelle Braziel, author of Known by Salt and Rooted by Thirst, was raised on the banks of the Coosa River. A first generation college student, she earned degrees at the University of Montevallo, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Oregon. Her awards include the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, a fellowship for the Alabama State Council for the Arts, and an artist residency at Hot Springs National Park. Currently, she directs the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop at UAB. She and her husband, novelist James Braziel, live and write in a glass cabin that they are building by hand.
“To say that Braziel’s writing has a conversational ease or that it is salted with the very best of the vivid vernacular of the Southern places it praises, does not fully represent her considerable poetic skill. Her poems elevate the burning trash and grit, turning them into treasure and pearls. Even more significant than these transformations is her way of illuminating what is already here: how a woman setting a Formica table with cornbread is comparable to a Greek statue, and the home you have is reason to lay on down, to stay right where you are, and to make an artful life of perceiving it.” —Rose McLarney, National Poetry Series Winner for Its Day Being Gone
“Beauty is the rare thing, but this poet finds it everywhere. Tina Mozelle Braziel is the finest Southern Poet of her generation. God bless her and her incredible work.” —Dennis Covington, Nation Book Award Finalist for Salvation on Sand Mountain
“Tina Braziel’s Known by Salt is very much a book of celebrations. One arc of the book is the move from a trailer park to a house that Tina and her husband build with their own hand, stud by stud, window by window. It also is a celebration of Alabama, with its forests, its rivers and lakes, and its creatures: snakes, deer, birds, lizards. Her observations are so keen —“herons lift their backward knees” —that they make me laugh out loud in my own celebration. This attention to detail is what Roethke called long looking, and it is everywhere in these well-wrought poems.” —C.G. Hanzlicek, 2017 Judge Philip Levine Prize for Poetry.