Legend: Shaw, Mississippi



A melody emerges from the Mississippi Delta,

Holding some work songs, gospels and blues,

I feel like a morning star, Born Under a Bad Sign, I’ll Play the Blues for You, Praise His Name,

Flying swiftly from the white, brown and infinite flatlands,

Leland, Indianola, Ruleville, Sunflower, Drew, Parchman, Tutwiler, Vance, Lambert, Marks

Reaching the green round North central Mississippi hills,

Oxford, Taylor, Cotton Road, Bruce, Sabougla,

And taking its inspiration from the beauty of the everyday life,

Anna, Pat, Bill, Jackie and Clay.

Pieces of life, past and present, here and there, Wildflowers everywhere.


WILDFLOWERS is a photographic series made of two parts, reflecting each other through an ode to life: part 1. the Mississippi Delta and part 2. the North Mississippi Hills. Like a dust of metaphors and symbols, the images go with some lyrics, some texts or some poetry, making this series a beautiful common work: Anna Kline, William Ferris, Mark M. Clifton, Tony Rabalao, Howard Brown, and Matthew Shenoda are the authors as well as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Albert King, James “Son” Thomas, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Tennessee Williams and Herman Melville.





Legend: Richard road


So It Goes

Music and Lyrics Anna Kline


Six hundred acres of rollin’green

This dark, tilled earth is my only creed

Such a sight in front of me

Answers await the man who sews the seed


Crows feet smiling at the sun

The cookin’ and the cannin’

Have all been done

Blessed be to God above

Our harvest He made a prosperous one


Mule and bridle

Plow to dirt

These hands have seen no other work

Prayer and sweat

Coax a work of art

From the ground on up


So it goes

So it goes

So it goes

From head to heart


There’s a rattle down in my bones

I don’t mind the past

‘Long as it leaves me alone

Children hear my humble words

There’s more to life than what’s carved in stone


So it goes

So it goes

So it goes

From head to heart





Legend: Pat Thomas, bluesman, son of James “Son” Thomas, Leland.


“My friendship with James “Son” Thomas was my most important tie to the Mississippi Delta blues worlds that I documented in the 60s.Through my friendship with Mr Thomas, I discovered what I call the “blues family” in Leland, Mississippi. Each weekend this family gathered in the back room of Shelby “Poppa Jazz” Brown’s home in Kent’s Alley, where they danced to Mr Thomas’s music. I quickly learned that Mr Thomas was also a gifted storyteller and sculptor. His deep creative power was my window into the rich culture of the Mississippi Delta and its complex history of race, class and gender. James Thomas spoke to my students at Jackson State University, Yale University, and the University of Mississippi each year until his death in 1993. He taught them about the blues in deep, powerful ways. “


William Ferris




Legend: Fairview road


Summer in the South

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)


The oriole sings in the greening grove

As if he were half-way waiting,

The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,

Timid and hesitating.

The rain comes down in a torrent sweep

And the nights smell warm and piney,

The garden thrives, but the tender shoots

Are the yellow-green and tiny.

Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill,

Streams laugh that erst were quiet,

The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue

And the woods run mad with riot.



Legend: Anna Kline at Highway 61 Blues Museum in Leland.


Tonight, Forever Yours

Music and Lyrics Anna Kline


Time it undresses

The fiction & wreckage

Of all to which we lay claim

More than a thief, well, I’d like to think

Time’s brought me more gifts than grief



Infinite numbers

Of lovers and others

Get caught in our web of desire

Want and need are two different things

Thank God for unanswered prayers




We promenade

Through this great expanse

Spun round & round by some unseen hand

For all that I know, a presence unknown

Went to all this trouble for us




Round the room of crossed up hearts

I’d like to believe

You’re the reason I’m seeing stars

Reason enough

My feet can’t feel the floor

Reason enough

Tonight, forever yours


Pushing us under

The current grew stronger

Downriver we washed ashore

Forged together with fire and hammer

Forever to change our course



When the dust settles

It does beg the question

Of how a love it will grow

There’ve been plenty of reasons for lovin’, for leavin’

You always were ever my home




We promenade

Through this great expanse

Fortune’s the mistress of pure happenstance

Saddled and broke by all that I know

I find solace with one of my kind





Round the room of crossed up hearts

I’d like to believe

You’re the reason I’m seeing stars

Reason enough

My feet can’t feel the floor

Reason enough

Tonight, forever yours


Legend: near Benoit


“When I think of the Mississippi Delta, I think of its large, expansive spread of rich, flat, farmland that reaches beyond the horizon, as far as the eye can see. Its trees and crops grow from fertile topsoil and are a lush, deep green. In the late afternoon, the sun sets the landscape on fire with rich red and deep yellow hues. The smell of the Delta is the smell of decaying leaves, of pools of water, of flowing streams that suggest life is being transformed before your very eyes. The sound of the Delta is that of birds, of barking dogs, and of automobiles approaching from afar, then passing, then receding into the horizon along Highway 61.”


William Ferris




Legend: smiling the Blues, Pat Thomas, Leland.


I’ll Play the Blues For You

Albert King (1923-1992)


If you’re down an’ out, an’ you feel real hurt
Come on over, to the place where I work
An’ all your loneliness, I’ll try to soothe
I’ll play the blues for you




Legend: broken mirror in an old gas station on 278 E near Marks


Casting Shadows

Mark M. Clifton


Reflections casting shadows on a Southern day

Reimagined by love sewn and spread across this flat land

Blissful mornings filled with clouds covering the ever-scorching sun

Protecting us all

Allowing the growth of so much more.




Legend: Anna


The poet and His song

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)


A song is but a little thing,

And yet what joy it is to sing!

In hours of toil it gives me zest,

And when at eve I long for rest;

When cows come home along the bars,

And in the fold I hear the bell,

As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars,

I sing my song, and all is well.


There are no ears to hear my lays,

No lips to lift a word of praise;

But still with faith unfaltering,

I live and laugh and love and sing.

What matters yon unheeding throng?

They cannot feel my spirit’s spell,

Since life is sweet and love is long,

I sing my song and all is well.


My days are never days of ease;

I till my ground and prune my trees.

When ripened gold is all the plain,

I put my sickle to the grain.

I labor hard and toil and sweat,

While others dream within the dell;

But even while my brow is wet,

I sing my song and all is well.


Sometimes the sun unkindly hot,

My garden makes a desert spot;

Sometimes a blight upon the tree

Takes all my fruit away from me;

And then with throes of bitter pain

Rebellious passions rise and swell;

But life– is more than fruit or grain,

And so I sing, and all is well.




Legend: the soil



Mark M. Clifton


Rich in color, rich in touch, rich in ability,

Representing possibilities in an uncommon place,

Beauty sprouting from below

Essential in mind, but everlasting in spirit

So plentiful it is, so much it gives.


Legend: catfish ponds near Ruleville.


Moonlit Sky

Mark M. Clifton


As blue as a moonlit sky, these waters bring life,

A life so plentiful, so giving

A life filled with longevity

A life worth living.





Legend: Pat Thomas and Anna Kline at Highway 61 Blues Museum in Leland.


“The farm where I grew up in Mississippi was unique, in part because of its sheer beauty, and in part because of the amazing families – black and white – who lived there. My parents always taught us to respect all people regardless of their race, and I was intimately connected with black families on the farm from my earliest memories. Their voices, their music, and their faces are forever preserved in my memory as part of my extended family. My strong love for the blues was inspired by the musics I heard on the farm. In our home, Mary Gordon often sang hymns as she worked, and during Rose Hill Church services we could hear the congregation singing from our home. The sound of the congregation’s clear, beautiful a capella voices, had a powerful effect on me. When I attended Rose Hill Church with Mary Gordon, I felt immersed in the music in a way that forever shaped my love for black voice.”


William Ferris








Legend: the morning view


That Blessed Hope

Forest Leaves poetry collection

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)



Oh touch it not that hope so blest

Which cheers the fainting heart,

And points it to the coming rest

Where sorrow has no part.


Tear from heart each worldly prop,

Unbind each earthly string;

But to this blest and glorious hope,

Oh let my spirit cling.


Help me to love this blessed hope;

My heart’s a fragile thing;

Will you not nerve and bear it up

Around this hope to cling.





Legend: the door


Collecting Time

Music and lyrics Leh-Lo Tony Rabalao


We don’t have to win

We don’t have to lose

Cause we know how to play


And we don’t have to fight

And we don’t have to choose

But we can still have a say


Making contacts hard to keep

It’s a concept so hard to teach


We’ll just keep moving west,

collecting time

Save it up for never

Spend it all together

We’ll just keep on moving west,

collecting time

Today I’ll live for now

One day I’ll live forever


We don’t have to worry

But we do anyway

And we don’t have to care

But it’s built into the system

I guess it keeps us human

So we do it cause it’s there


Making contacts hard to keep

It’s a concept so hard to teach


We’ll just keep moving west,

collecting time

Save it up for never

Spend it all together

We’ll just keep on moving west,

collecting time

Today I’ll live for now

One day I’ll live forever


Saving it up for more than this

I ask myself if it’s worth the risk

Yes we may be moving

But this ride we’re on may be

all it ever is


Making contacts hard to keep

It’s a concept so hard to teach


We’ll just keep moving west,

collecting time

Save it up for never

Spend it all together

We’ll just keep on moving west,

collecting time

Today I’ll live for now

One day I’ll live forever





Legend: a heart of gold, Jackie


Songs for The People

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)


Let me make the songs for the people,

Songs for the old and young;

Songs to stir like a battle-cry

Wherever they are sung.


Not for the clashing of sabres,

For carnage nor for strife;

But songs to thrill the hearts of men

With more abundant life.


Let me make the songs for the weary,

Amid life’s fever and fret,

Till hearts shall relax their tension,

And careworn brows forget.


Our world so worn and weary,

Needs music, pure and strong,

To hush the jungle and discords

Of sorrow, pain and wrong.


Music to soothe all its sorrow,

Till war and crime shall cease;

And the hearts of men grown tender

Girdle the world with peace.





Legend: such a beautiful day


Wildflowers Grow, Even in The Dark

Mark M. Clifton


The light beams wide

Over this ever so wild landscape

Blissful moments consume me

This wonderful place, it groomed me

So far away from others, yet so near to my heart

A place where wildflowers grow, even in the dark





Legend: the light


“I wish that you were my sister. I’d teach you to have more confidence in yourself. The different people are not like other people, but being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Because other people are not such wonderful people. They’re one hundred times one thousand. You’re one times one! They walk all over the earth. You just stay here. They’re common as – weeds, but – you- well, you’re –Blue Roses!”

Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie Act VII)



Legend: just a moment


An Inseparable Feeling

Mark M. Clifton


Passing the time

Thinking of you

Rocking away

An inseparable feeling

The moment, so high

The trees, hang low

If there’s another like this, I don’t want to know




Legend: the Queen, Honey.



Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)


A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,

A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,

A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,

And never a laugh but the moans come double;

And that is life!


A crust and a corner that love makes precious,

With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us;

And joy seems sweeter when cares come after,

And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter;

And that is life!





Legend: the secret garden



Herman Melville (1819-1891)


In placid hours well-pleased we dream

Of many a brave unbodied scheme.

But form to lend, pulsed life create,

What unlike things must meet and mate:

A flame to melt – a wind to freeze;

Sad patience—joyous energies;

Humility—yet pride and scorn;

Instinct and study; love and hate;

Audacity—reverence. These must mate,

And fuse with Jacob’s mystic heart,

To wrestle with the angel—Art.





Legend: Bill, sculptor


(…) “When I do my sculpturing work, things just roll across my mind. If I see a picture in a magazine or on television, that’s what I’ll go by. I look at the picture to get the future of it better. The futures come in dreams. I lay down and dream about the sculpture, about how to fix one of the heads. I’m liable to dream anything. That gives you in your hand what to do. Then you wake up and try it. If you can’t hold it in your head, you can’t do it in your hand. (…) If I could get to a mountain where they have this clay like I use, I believe I could do me a whole man. I believe I could put a whole statue of a man standing up in that mountain. If the clay worked right, I could start at the head and come right down to the feets. I believe I could work a statue as big as a man. I believe I could make him just as tall as me or you, if I could get the right height dirt. That’s six foot high. I haven’t ever did it, but I believe I could.”(…)

James “Son” Thomas, bluesman and sculptor 1926-1993 (from Give my Poor Heart Ease by William Ferris page 118-119)



Legend: home


Staring Through The Window

Mark M. Clifton


Polar opposites alone

A polarizing symmetry together

Staring through the window

A window that is so grateful

Grateful to be a path

A path of navigation, in this hidden place




Legend: coming home



Howard Brown


Day softens

in the failing



The sky,

the Earth,

all that fills it.


Things blur

and begin

to murmur.


I sit, watch,

and wait

for darkness.






Legend: Clay in the studio


Forget all Other Incarnations

Howard Brown


Forget all other incarnations, the
present reality is the one you
must live.


Behold the mountain, cloaked
in red, brown, green and gold.
For both you and the mountain,
there are four seasons: spring,
summer, fall and winter.  And
while these seasons will pass
countless times for the mountain,
given the difference in velocity,
the same will not be true for you.


So, forget all other incarnations,
the present reality is the one
you must live.





Legend: night owl



“Traces” was originally published by the Academy of American Poets, Poem-a-Day. Copyright Matthew Shenoda.


In the hard shadow of the moon

when the recesses of light have gone

and the faint red of the hawk’s shoulder has disappeared from the


in the growing pulse of the praying mantis

when the city has come into its own new light

it is here where I often remember:


the weaving of ocean vines

the trails of history, cemented by touch

the small ridged blossom of the cowry shell

the indigo dye made radiant by the seller’s basket.


The way the long grass

emerges at the shore.

Something of that meeting.


These are memories both distant and near

traces of them lived and felt

laughing in the company of the ones who came

holding the silence of the moment, as we stare

with wonder, at the bubbling ruptures of a painter’s canvas,

pull, with care, the clinging skin of a stubborn fruit.


I recall these moments

not from the grand gesture

of a thing once known,

but from a small place

the place where my child’s hand

is hidden warmly inside my own.





Carrying the Light


I want to thank from the bottom of my heart all the incredibly talented authors who contributed very generously to WILDFLOWERS and helped me make this photographic series, a special and unique one.


Anna Kline





William Ferris

Folklorist and photographer

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues  (https://uncpress.org/book/9781469628875/give-my-poor-heart-ease/); Les Voix du Mississippi (http://www.papaguede.fr/)


The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists ( https://uncpress.org/book/9781469607542/the-storied-south/)


The South in Color: A Visual Journal  (https://uncpress.org/book/9781469629681/the-south-in-color/)


I Am A Man: Photographies et Luttes Pour Les Droits Civiques Dans Le Sud Des Etats-Unis, 1960-1970   (https://www.amazon.fr/Photographies-luttes-civiques-Etats-Unis-1960-1970/dp/2754114874/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543245598&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=i+am+a+man+photograpies+et+luttes+pour+les+doits+civiques+dans+le+sud+des+etats-unis%2C+1960-1970)


Pat Thomas, is the son of the legendary James “Son “ Thomas. He lives in Leland, Mississippi and you can find him every day at the Highway 61 Blues Museum.

You can find videos about Pat and about his father on Youtube and in films made by William Ferris. You can also find Albert King on Youtube.


Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition


Mark M. Clifton: Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Mark M. Clifton is an artist exploring the bounds of image and literature. Website:  www.markmclifton.com

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an African American poet, novelist and journalist. She was also a prominent abolitionist and women’s suffrage activist.


Leh-Lo Tony Rabalao is a sophisticated musician holding many strings to his bow: he is an internationally renowned drummer (Bedouin SoundClash, SATE, etc….), an amazing timeless songwriter and a soulful singer. You can find his music — Zig Zag 2007 and Lefty 2018 — on Spotify and Youtube.

Bill Beckwith  http://www.williamnbeckwith.com


Howard Brown is a poet and writer who, in retirement, lives in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.  He grew up in the red clay hills of North Mississippi, earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Mississippi, practiced law in Jackson, Mississippi, Oakland, California and, more recently in Memphis, Tennessee.  His poetry and short fiction have appeared in numerous print and online journals.  In 2012, he published a collection of poetry entitled The Gossamer Nature of Random Things. In 2015, his poem “Pariah” placed first in the poetry division of Mississippi’s William Faulkner Literary Competition sponsored by the Tallahatchie Riverfest.


Clay Beckwith makes beautiful knives. You can follow him on Facebook SLAG Studios and Instagram @slag_studios


Matthew Shenoda: www.matthewshenoda.com


If you want to read more poems and know more about Paul Laurence Dunbar, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Herman Melville and Matthew Shenoda —look for www.poets.org


A story

 I was born in France but raised in Maryland, from 2 to 5 years old. Since these vivid years, my American roots have called me back “home” at least once a year. That’s where I have forged a family, living in different places, cities and states in the USA. During my journeys, I spend most of the days on the road with my camera or together with my friends. These moments, these explorations, these deep feelings, always give birth to a new photographic series. WILDFLOWERS came out from my last October/ November 2019 trip.



Instagram @beatrice_chauvin


© Béatrice Chauvin 2019 Wildflowers