Handspan of Red Earth: An Anthology of American Farm Poems

Catherine L. Marconi, Editor University of Iowa Press $19 (197p) ISBN 978-0-87745-326-0
Although one may at first question the aesthetic value of an anthology that brings together poems about the seemingly unprovocative theme of American farms, even a quick perusal of this remarkable collection should dispel any doubts about thepk project's worthiness. A passionate commitment to the subject of farm life is what makes these poems so engaging, so moving and so memorable. Among the most affecting are Donald Hall's ``Maple Syrup,'' in which the speaker finds a 25-year-old can of syrup prepared by his grandfather, long since passed away, and marvels at ``the sweetness preserved, of a dead man''; Ai's shocking ``The Country Midwife: A Day,'' in which ``the stink of birth'' is an unavoidable aspect of a baby's delivery; Wendell Berry's ``Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer'' (``When I fall / let me fall without regret / like a leaf''); and Roger Weingarten's ``These Obituaries of Rattlesnakes Being Eaten by the Hogs,'' detailing the poet's observations of the routine of a country veterinarian. Other writers represented include James Dickey, Maxine Kumin, William Stafford and Galway Kinnell. Marconi is a poet and farmer. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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