The Coal Life: Poems

Overview


"Adam Vines's command of the sounds of the English language is delicious, but it never prettifies what he sees in the world. These are poems of real life and of the physical condition of being alive in all its joy and difficulty. A hardscrabble childhood, a self-demanding adulthood, both emerge in poems full of fine ironies and a mature acceptance."

--Mary Jo Salter, author of A Phone Call to the Future: New and Selected Poems

"Arguably the finest metaphor in The Coal Life is ...

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Overview


"Adam Vines's command of the sounds of the English language is delicious, but it never prettifies what he sees in the world. These are poems of real life and of the physical condition of being alive in all its joy and difficulty. A hardscrabble childhood, a self-demanding adulthood, both emerge in poems full of fine ironies and a mature acceptance."

--Mary Jo Salter, author of A Phone Call to the Future: New and Selected Poems

"Arguably the finest metaphor in The Coal Life is found in a dynamite box: a mine rat's nest of 'chewed scripture and company scrip.' But in every poem, Adam Vines balances a tension perfect as it is uneasy--between life's 'urge for change, flight, and sex' and the more patient resolve of faith in a world beyond 'the mutable zodiac' of this hard-wrought human universe. Perhaps these poems were conceived in the 'shadow myth of ruins,' but they emerge as the best poems do--'leaning to the light.' The Coal Life is remarkable--and necessary."

--Claudia Emerson, author of Figure Studies: Poems

"Adam Vines' The Coal Life is a book mined from linguistic, literary, and historical underworlds. These poems keenly observe and deeply ponder; they dig into the mineral dark of memory, uncovering along the way forgotten and abandoned voices, idioms, occupations, thwarted desires, moments of grace in misery, and accidents of astounding beauty. An extraordinary first collection, The Coal Life is built to last even while it rests upon 'the shadow myth of ruins.'"

--Alan Shapiro, author of Old War: Poems

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Coal Life is not a book about nervous breakdowns, addictions, madness, taboos, or debauchery, and in this sense a quote from John Updike comes to mind: 'I like middles. It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules.' Vines -- within neat stanzas and muscular, loaded lines -- does a superb job of situating his poems in this restless, ambiguous middle zone where most of us live our lives."

--Alex M. Frankel in The Antioch Review, Fall 2012

"This week I've returned to The Coal Life, the 2012 debut collection from Birmingham Poetry Review editor Adam Vines. And it's still staggeringly good. Vines has this way of delivering a deliciously playful line with a face so straight you feel like a fool for thinking words could work any other way. Check out 'River Politics' over at Poetry for a prime example, and then spring for the full set."

--Samuel Fox, Paris Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557289803
  • Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2012
  • Pages: 67
  • Sales rank: 1,383,628
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Adam Vines is assistant professor of English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and editor of the Birmingham Poetry Review. His poems have been published in North American Review, The Cincinnati Review, and The Greensboro Review.
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