Six O'Clock Mine Report

Overview

The speaker in Irene McKinney?s poems is most often alone, sitting at the side of a stream, or standing at her own chosen gravesite in the Appalachian mountains, and the meditations spoken out of this essential solitude are powerfully clear, witty, and wide-ranging in content and tone. The center sequence of poems in the Emily Dickinson persona explore and magnify that great and enigmatic figure.

McKinney?s poems are firmly grounded in concern for the ways in which the elemental...

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Overview

The speaker in Irene McKinney’s poems is most often alone, sitting at the side of a stream, or standing at her own chosen gravesite in the Appalachian mountains, and the meditations spoken out of this essential solitude are powerfully clear, witty, and wide-ranging in content and tone. The center sequence of poems in the Emily Dickinson persona explore and magnify that great and enigmatic figure.

McKinney’s poems are firmly grounded in concern for the ways in which the elemental powers are at work in the Earth and in us: on the surface of our lives, and deeper in the underworld of the coal mines. In these poems, the human world is never seen separate from the natural one.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From a celebration of birds to a first-person account of Mary Shelley's miscarriage, McKinney ( The Girl with the Stone in Her Lap ) reveals an impressive range in subject and tone of voice. Sometimes she simply takes notice of the world in all its beauty, oddity and humor, as in a scene from ``Potts Farms, Summer 1955'': ``Aunt Floss is baking bread and laughing, / clacking her false teeth''; elsewhere her observations shed light on the observer. ``Starlings in the walls at night'' suggest the discord within the narrator (``my feet / chilling on the bare boards, birds in my blood, on my hair'') while the speaker's nonchalant tone and the ordinary images depicted in ``Pike County Breakdown'' make the poem all the more frightening. Some readers may find the central sequence of poems spoken by Emily Dickinson less convincing, and McKinney's evenness of emotional pitch enervates and frustrates at times. But this collection contains writing that intrigues and disturbs. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“When Irene McKinney writes of the ‘black rooms your very body / can move through’ or of ‘the shaven hilly graves we own. / The babies there / that are not me,’ I am there. I am grateful for the poems that burst forth from her West Virginia roots to shape this fine collection.”

—Maxine Kumin

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Product Details

Meet the Author

IRENE MCKINNEY is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, and two West Virginia Commission on the Arts Fellowships in Poetry. She is the author of five collections of poetry: The Girl with a Stone in Her Lap, The Wasps at the Blue Hexagons, Quick Fire and Slow Fire, Six O’Clock Mine Report and Vivid Companion. She is editor of the anthology Backcountry: Contemporary Writing in West Virginia, and has held fellowships at MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Blue Mountain Center. Ms. McKinney is Professor Emerita at West Virginia Wesleyan College; she was appointed Poet Laureate of West Virginia in 1994.
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Table of Contents

SIX O'CLOCK MINE REPORT
Twilight in West Virginia: Six O'Clock Mine Report
Potts Farm, Summer 1955
The Ruined House of the Photographer
Starlings in the Walls at Night
Before Spring •A Freshet in Brattleboro
Phoebe, Phoebe, Phoebe
Little Boats
Deep Mining
Sunday Morning, 1950

THE ONLY PORTRAIT OF EMILY DICKINSON
The Only Portrait of Emily Dickinson
Her Fascicles
She Speaks of Her Sister
The Birds
Her Name
Her Poem
She Says Zero
She Speaks to the Visitor at the Dickinson Homestead

LIMITED ACCESS
Visiting My Gravesite: Talbott Churchyard, West Virginia
No Elegy
Pike County Breakdown
A Stream in His Mind
To His Wife
The Jewelry Box

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