Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beyond the Shadows of Graceland

Poem by: Heather VanHoose Truett
Attraction: Elvis' birthplace and boyhood home
Location: Tupelo, Mississippi
Photos: Courtesy of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau

"Beyond the Shadows of Graceland"

I ask my mom for memories
of Elvis.
Did she drool over him
on TV?
I know the glitz and glam
of Graceland.
I know the awful drama of suicide
and overdose
and rumors, “He’s alive.”
It’s hard to connect these stories
to my daily image of Elvis,
the shoebox house
on the “wrong” side of town,
just a mile or so
from my home.
In this town,
Elvis is still a boy,
still a homegrown small town man
who learned to play guitar
and sing in church.
When I hear the tales

of his generous heart,
of all the hope he gave away,
then I can picture
the man as the boy
in the little house
in Tupelo.

-Heather VanHoose Truett

Tourism Guide

Tupelo is home to the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
He was born in the "shoebox" house that still stands there. The house is now a major tourist attraction which draws thousands of visitors each year. Although Elvis became the King of Rock and Roll, he found his roots singing gospel music in a Tupelo church as a boy. Ironically, it is his gospel music that still sells so well today, inpsiring millions of fans with his faith and love that he found first in Tupelo. In this town, fans can visit the house where he was born, the church that he first sang in, and the hardware store where he bought his first guitar.

The humble nature of the Tupelo attractions are in great contrast to the glitzy attractions of Graceland but no less impressive for their inspirations on Elvis. Perhaps that is why he is still wearing his overalls in the revered town statue above. Tupelo citizens like to remember him, much as the poem evokes, as the humble but talented boy they knew growing up here in this special town. Please visit the links below to learn more about Elvis' boyhood home. Please also visit Celebrating Elvis and the South for more Elvis-inspired poetry by Mississippi poet Patricia Neely-Dorsey.

Tourim Links

Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau

Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum

About Heather VanHoose Truett

Heather teaches poetry at the Main ARTery, an arts shop in downtown Tupleo. She also teaches creative writing in schools. Heather's work has been published in Devo'Zine, Group Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul: On Friendship, Slugfest Ltd, Everyday Musings,, Busy Parents Online, Abundance Press, Jackson Free Press and The Paintsville Herald. Her second book of poetry will be published next year.

Visit the Main ARTery on Facebook at:

Visit Heather's blog at:

Check out Heather's first book of poetry at:


  1. This is a beautiful poem, particularly apropos today.

  2. More people should know about Elvis' more humble beginnings. Most people, including myself, are more familiar with the later Graceland side of his story. Great poem.