"Ma Rainey" gives us a good cross-section of the South and the Mississippi river valley. What vision do we get in the poem? One of swampy river towns, where poverty is rampant and folks everywhere sing the blues. As a professor and a poet, Sterling Brown was captivated by the southern black community, and this poem is just one of his many attempts to give it a literary spin.
This poem could only take place in the south. Ma Rainey has a uniquely southern appeal.
The mention of specific southern towns only takes away from the poem's universal themes.