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Home Burialby Michael Mcgriff
Synopses & Reviews
"A lyricist at heart, McGriff is a masterful maker of metaphor."—Third Coast
"There is majestic beauty in these descriptions, and it is clear that McGriff honors this place as a place—not as mere setting, but as a distinct element of his verse."—Gently Read Literature
Michael McGriff's second full-length collection explores interior landscapes and illustrates life in a rural community in the Pacific Northwest. Whether tender or hard-hitting, McGriff juxtaposes natural images of deep forests, creeks, coyotes, and crows against the harsher oil-grease realities of blue-collar life, creating poems that read like folk tales about the people working in grain mills, forests, and factories.
The new law says you can abandon your child
in an emergency room,
no questions asked. The young father
carries the sleeping boy
through the hospital doors.
Later, alone, parked at the boat basin,
he takes a knife from his pocket,
cuts an unfiltered cigarette in two,
lights the longer half in his mouth.
He was a medic in the war.
In his basement are five bronze eagles
that once adorned the walls
of a dictator's palace.
Michael McGriff attended the University of Oregon; the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in creative writing; and Stanford University, where he was a Stegner Fellow. He is the co-founding editor and publisher of Tavern Books and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"McGriff's second volume begins with a tale and a shock: 'Kissing Hitler,' says the poem of the same name, was the author's name for 'siphoning gas,/ huffing shop rags.// And we kissed him everywhere,' over an adolescent 'summer/ when people just went crazy.' The pages that follow delve further into rural hardscrabble misfortune and misadventure, in rough free verse with an American gothic affect: 'Is your charity the green rot/ of a fence post?' McGriff asks. 'Are you near me/ as I clean this ashtray/ with my sleeve?' With rough portrayals of 'rifle shots and laughter,/ gravel roads crunching under pickups,' 'the night inside a barn owl's wing-hush,' and even a reminiscence of snake handling, McGriff (Dismantling the Hills) can evoke early Denis Johnson or early C.D. Wright, substituting his own Pacific Northwest for her mid-South. 'The Light in November' falls on 'the Lucky Logger Diner' and 'behind my father/ as he walks home from the cannery,' while other signs of rebirth and epiphany, luck and ease, recede before a territorial 'thin white noise hissing/ at the back of everything.' Readers may disagree as to how much is new, in subject, in treatment, and in sound, but McGriff's vivid grit remains hard to gainsay." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Work has never been a literary theme park for me—its what I know and have known.”—Michael McGriff
About the Author
Michael McGriff: Michael McGriff is the author of Dismantling the Hills, which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize in 2007. He has been a Michener Fellow, and received a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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