America’s Tumultuous Love Affair With Kudzu

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IN FEBRUARY OF 1937, A newspaper columnist in Asheville, North Carolina, announced the start of a poetry contest. The prompt? He wanted odes to kudzu, the broad-leafed vine that, people would later say, grows so fast it is best fertilized with motor oil. As the columnist wrote, it was a great muse: the vine was “good for nearly everything but influenza or frostbite.” It was also not a hard ask poetically: “Who is so poor a poet that he can’t find a rhyme for kudzu?””

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