Monday, August 22, 2011

Book review: Southern Crossings, Where Geography and Photography Meet

From The New Star: Elements of the South shown in new bookKentucky geography professor David Zurick spent a decade journeying throughout the South searching for elements that defined the region.

"Southern Crossings — Where Geography and Photography Meets," a combination of Zurick's photographs and commentary, has been published by the Center for American Places at Columbia College in Chicago, published by the Center Books on the American South, University of Georgia Press.

Zurick explores the Crossroads in Mississippi, crabbing in Creole country below Lake Charles, an antebellum porch in Georgia, Civil Rights in Alabama, the tidal marshes of South Carolina and much more. What he found in his decades of research was there are many elements to the region and not just the geographically defined Upland and Lowland South or the cultures of Old South and New South.

"I knew that such a sojourn is a highly personal endeavor, and I had no intention of 'capturing' the South in a definitive way, as if its explanation could be universal," he writes. "As a result, the photographs and their associated vignettes offer no overarching evidence, either individually or in their collection, for a single understanding. Like any region, the Southern landscape transcends labels and categories precisely because it is ever-changing each time a person chooses to cross it."

The book's cover features a mechanical Cajun robot who explains the ecology of the wetlands in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in Cameron Parish.
"Last Barriers"

From the University of Mississippi Press comes a gorgeous coffee table book that also showcases a man's lifetime of documenting pristine wilderness in the hopes of its protection.

"Last Barriers: Photographs from the Gulf Islands National Seashore" is a collection of 120 images taken by Donald Bradburn of New Orleans, who spent years capturing on film the Mississippi Gulf Coast barrier islands, particularly the expansive Horn Island. Bradburn was introduced to the beauty of these islands when he was taken there in his youth by an uncle to fish. When he heard that plans were in progress to open the islands as parks within the National Park Service, Bradburn made it his life's goal to see them protected.

Today, the islands remain part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

In 1971, Bradburn won the inaugural Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography from the Sierra Club and the book showcases these beautiful photos of wildlife, dunes, trees, weather changes and Gulf waters. It's a gorgeous book of a transient coastline that should be in every Gulf Coast lover's library.

Reviewer Cheré Coen is the author of "Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana" and co-author of "Magic's in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets." She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette's Continuing Education.

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