Poet Laureate Promotes Tourism

Bragg-Mitchell House Mobile

Bragg-Mitchell House in Mobile. Built 1855.

“Apparitions” is one of the many poems in an endearing poetry book named Reuben’s Mobile by Sue Brannan Walker, former Poet Laureate of Alabama and English professor at the University of South Alabama. Walker uses the inspiration of Reuben, a real Harlequin Great Dane from Mobile, as a friendly fictional guide dog to the charms of Mobile’s many real locations. Each poem is beautifully illustrated by artist Kate Seawell. Ghost stories are always fun for children, so with Walker’s permission I have excerpted the poem below about Mobile’s ghosts from some of the area’s oldest haunts. My own four year-old son wanted me to keep reading when I stopped halfway through this book, and the second night, he asked to hear “the ghost story” again first. So, imagine if children could hear the poems and then visit the real places afterwards! After the poem, please browse the tourism links to find out how to visit the real Bragg-Mitchell Mansion and DAR House, along with other kid-friendly attractions in the area, like Battleship Memorial Park. Also, click on the link at the end to order the book!


by Sue Brannan Walker

Bienville Square-E

Bienville Square in Mobile

Reuben hears ghosts stirring,

hears them convening

in Cathedral, Bienville,

and Washington Square,

listens as they sing “On Mobile Bay,”

and reminisce about the time that used to be.

Cathedral Square-Mobile-E

Cathedral Square in Mobile

The Lady of Bragg-Mitchell Mansion

mourns her lost lover, stares

down the path they used to walk

before first light disturbed approaching day.

Mrs. Quigley’s heels click, click

the hardwood floors of night.

Reuben catches sight of her in the hall

of her home on Government Street.

Richards DAR House Mobile

Richards DAR House in Mobile

Mrs. Richards scolds eleven rowdy children

running through the rooms of DAR house.

The clocks chime, but time

seems to have stopped. It’s 1862.

In Seaman’s Bethel, a young girl

dresses in old costumes.

The sea captain pauses in the fly loft,

his voice rank with gloom.

Mobile loves its ghosts;

its ghosts love Mobile,

the scent of magnolias, the shades

of azalea red, the lavish gardens

and homes with iron lace.

Ruben (1)

The real Reuben that inspired the fictional character in the book.

Reuben is not afraid of ghosts

and seldom howls when he hears

them throwing dishes or raising

a ruckus on balmy August nights

to announce they’re still around.

He understands Mobile

would not be as exciting

were it not for spirits

who lean over balconies and grace

this place of history, of Southern hospitality,

prosperity, progress, and enduring charm.

Tourism Guide

Dr. Walker and her creative nonfiction writing class from the University of South Alabama will be the special guests at the upcoming 2014 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award Presentation at the Mobile Carnival Museum on October 15. Congressman Bradley Byrne will be presenting the third SELTI Tourism Fiction Award to Mary S. Palmer for her short story “Raisin’ Cain,” winner of the Mobile Bay SELTI Tourism Writing Contest.  Along with her poetry and writing, Dr. Walker is helping to teach the next generation of university writers how to harness the unique power of fiction and poetry to introduce readers to real tourism attractions. Mobile is filled with beautiful settings to inspire tourism fiction writers.

Richards DAR House

Bragg-Mitchell  Mansion

Battleship Memorial Park

City of Mobile

Buy Reuben’s Mobile

Visit Negative Capability Press, publisher of Reuben’s Mobile and other great books

August 14, 2014

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