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Dismal Rockby Davis Mccombs
Synopses & Reviews
The award-winning poet Davis McCombs revisits the landscape of his youth on the tobacco farms of Kentucky in this insightful collection of verse. Initially chronicling events in local and family history, the poems in this book soon widen in scope until they include subjects as diverse as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the Elgin Marbles, John Keats, Bob Marley, fatherhood, and fishing.
The author's lens is kaleidoscopic, and yet his poems coalesce around important themes that never lose sight of the specific and the personal. Several poems in this volume explore the grief McCombs feels over the loss of local culture as it resonates within the broader context of ecological destruction, imbuing the global with the undeniably personal. The poems in this collection are intimate and real, visceral and immediate, as if McCombs were haunted by them and had no alternative but to give them voice.
Currently director of the creative writing program at the University of Arkansas, Davis McCombsattended Harvard University and the University of Virginia and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Ruth Lilly Poetry Foundation, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry 1996, The Missouri Review, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review, and his first book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He was also the winner of the 2005 Dorset Prize.
"McCombs follows up his Yale YoungerPoets Prize winning debut, Ultima Thule with another book-length study of life in Kentucky. The first section, 'Tobacco Mosaic,' is a sixteen-poem sequence about the decline of the burley tobacco farms of south-central Kentucky. The second, 'The Mist Netters,' is comprised of twenty-six lyrics addressing the American rural landscape and/or artistic making. Throughout, McCombs is wonderful with details: 'Tonight, the year's first dust of snow started falling on the road/ past Mansfield Bend, and as I drove, it fell on Summer Seat,/ Paul Wheeler's Barn, and Haunted Hill. It fell, no doubt,/ on Woodsonville and darkly on the spine of Dismal Rock.' Unfortunately, McCombs can also be melodramatic, as in 'Nineveh,' where the moonlight falls 'like forgiveness,' or in 'Smoke,' when a mysterious, ghost-like stranger warns us, 'Tobacco is a holy spirit/ . . . but abuse it, and its power will kill you.' Several poems in 'The Mist Netters' consider McCombs' own process, among them 'Noodling' (slang for catching catfish by hand, using the fingers as bait), which ends up an unintentionally comic echo of Elizabeth Bishop's famous poem 'The Fish.' Nonetheless, McCombs is a careful poet who looks thoroughly. He will be exactly what some readers are looking for." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Poetry. DISMAL ROCK showcases a revisitation to the landscape of McCombs' youth on the tobacco farms of Kentucky. Initially chronicling events in local and family history, this collection of verse widens in scope until it includes subjects as diverse as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the Elgin Marbles, John Keats, Bob Marley, fatherhood, and fishing. Several poems in this volume explore the grief McCombs feels over the loss of local culture as it resonates within the broader context of ecological destruction, imbuing the global with the undeniably personal.
About the Author
Davis McCombs, a former Yale Younger Poets Award winner (W.S. Merwin), directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arkansas. He attended Harvard University, the University of Virginia (MFA), and Stanford University as Wallace Stegner Fellow. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Ruth Lilly Poetry Foundation, and the Kentucky Arts Council.
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