Stephen Roger Powers


Salmon Poetry
Published October 1, 2009.
Softcover. 100 pages.
10th Anniversary Edition published January 19, 2019.
ISBN 978-1-907056-20-8
Cover art by Maura Harmon.
Book design by Siobhán Hutson.


All roads lead to Dollywood, and The Follower’s Tale, a bluegrass-inspired medley of lyric narrative poems, cruises the back highways of the American South on the way. These poems are about driving and exploring, music and heartache, and one poet’s fascination with the Backwoods Barbie of Tennessee and Hollywood. This book paints with tongue-in-cheek reverence an offbeat picture of where America fits today in a world turning under the shadows of pop culture icons. With diversions to Milwaukee, New Orleans, Paris, and other places far and wide, The Follower’s Tale does for Dollywood what Ulysses did for Dublin.


Dear Stephen,

I was so touched that I still have tears, and a few dropped on your poems.
I will always love you,

Dolly Parton

Like nothing else in Tennessee or anywhere else, Stephen Roger Powers’ The Follower’s Tale explores the lovestorms, hardships and delights long yarned and yodeled in country songs, but this whirlwind of a collection at once ironizes, subverts and deepens the miseries and joys of yearning without ever taking its eyes off the miraculous Dolly Parton. As the narrator observes, fantasizes and even channels the Pigeon Forge nightingale, he discovers that her down-to-earth royal kitsch provides the key to life’s most elusive mysteries. By the time Powers has worked his magic, even the slovenly wilderness will want to wig up and warble a chorus of “Jolene.”

R. T. Smith

Zecchinos, rickshaws, Gitanes, the Dollywood Express, gunshots, crack, Lorine Niedecker, and the Chasing Rainbows Museum are all woven together in these large-languaged, visioned, spiritual, sensual poems. These poems are smart, energetic, and surprising.  They look at America and beyond to universal desires & appetites, all through the microcosm of Dollywood & its rhinestone founder.

Susan Firer

Dolly Parton once said that what she wants to do as a performer is make them laugh a little, make them cry a little, scare the hell out of them and go home. Stephen Roger Powers has taken this to heart and written a book of poems that gives us America through the lens of one of our greatest unnatural resources. Read it and weep, and laugh and cover your eyes. This is Dollywood.

Dorianne Laux

The poetry of Stephen Roger Powers has remarkable qualities of provocation and social investigation; its ambivalence is usually comic. Powers combines insight and delight in Americana with a fervent and ancient sense of worship.

James Liddy