I got to spend some time with Kate Campbell this week, and a fine time it was. When she talked about Eudora Welty at JCJC, she said that she loves Eudora’s writing because Eudora writes the way she thinks. Exactly. Me too. And Kate sings the way I think. This is why when I first met her three years ago at a Coffee House show in Hattiesburg, I turned to my friend Tammy and said, “She’s one of us.” Tammy and I still think so.
We’re tight with Kate, tight with Eudora, tight with a Southern voice that knows how to express what it means to be us.
Kate has this song called “Jesus and Tomatoes Coming Soon.” She saw that on a sign at a roadside fruit stand. She has another song with the words “Jesus is Lord of Picayune, and Mississippi Welcomes You.” Yes, that’s a real sign too.
She tells a story about how she knew she and Eudora thought alike when she was given a picture of Eudora standing next to a sign that said, “Jesus is Lord of Kosciusko.” Those signs are everywhere in this state.
I once wrote a poem called “Jesus is at Sullivan Motors.” That was a sign I used to drive by from time to time.
I no longer have the poem. I wrote it a long time ago on a computer long dead. I culled it out of the poems I used for readings and such at the time, the poems I kept copies of. I must not have thought it was very good. It takes time to build something that does justice to the irony and humor of a sign like that.
I’ve heard Kate tell her Eudora sign story four or five times now. Every time I think, “I did that too. I think like that too. I’m in this club.”
But I don’t still have the poem to prove it, and if I rewrote it now it would only look like I was copying Kate.
On the other hand, the picture in this blog entry is of a real plant in my back yard. Maybe Jesus and tomatoes really are coming soon.