The Language They Speak Is Things to Eat: Poems by Fifteen Contemporary North Carolina Poets

The Language They Speak Is Things to Eat: Poems by Fifteen Contemporary North Carolina Poets

by Michael McFee
     
 

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North Carolina is well known for its fiction writers, but the state is also home to a number of the nation's best poets. In the past few decades, these poets have produced memorable work and received numerous honors. A companion to the contemporary North Carolina fiction anthology The Rough Road Home (1992), this book provides a substantial sampling of their

Overview

North Carolina is well known for its fiction writers, but the state is also home to a number of the nation's best poets. In the past few decades, these poets have produced memorable work and received numerous honors. A companion to the contemporary North Carolina fiction anthology The Rough Road Home (1992), this book provides a substantial sampling of their recent bounty. Poet Michael McFee has chosen from eight to twenty poems by each of fifteen poets. There is a refreshing diversity in the voices, from James Applewhite's down east tobacco farmer to Gerald Barrax's passionate urban man to Kathryn Stripling Byer's isolated mountain woman. The humor ranges from Maya Angelou's serious wit to Jonathan Williams's verbal improvisations. And there is a healthy variety in form and tone, from A. R. Ammons's free verse ruminations to Fred Chappell's vigorous, witty narratives in traditional forms. But there is also a fundamental unity to these poets. They are all North Carolina writers, who were born in or have long lived in the state, and whose verbal consciousness has been shaped by the very nature of the place. Most importantly, they are all poets we can read with appreciation and great pleasure. contributors Betty Adcock A. R. Ammons Maya Angelou James Applewhite Gerald Barrax Kathryn Stripling Byer Fred Chappell William Harmon Susan Ludvigson Michael McFee Heather Ross Miller Robert Morgan Reynolds Price James Seay Jonathan Williams

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Editor Michael McFee, working with the University of North Carolina Press, has done an admirable job.

Southern Humanities Review

Cheers to Michael McFee and the University of North Carolina Press for letting these voices be heard.

Raleigh News and Observer

This is a wonderful collection of many years of serious work.

North Carolina Libraries

The poems McFee has chosen . . . begin immediately to yield delight that increases upon further reflection and study.

Georgia Review

This 'bouquet' has a delightful aroma—varied, and pungent with a sense of place.

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As McFee observes in the introduction, most anthologies tend to favor variety rather than depth-``bouquets rather than whole fields of flowers.'' By selecting the work of only 15 contemporary North Carolina poets, however, he offers an ample sampling of each poet's work, to give a ``satisfying sense of a poet's full flavor.'' Not surprisingly, part of that ``flavor'' is North Carolina itself-its history, people, food and language. Here are the richly textured blues-poems of Maya Angelou and the lyrical, wonderfully colloquial work of Fred Chappell. Here too is the wryly passionate poetry of Kathryn Stripling Byer, whose voice draws its powerful sense of place from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Perhaps the most tenuous inclusion is A.R. Ammons-a poet who, though originally from North Carolina, has spent the last 30 years in Ithaca, N.Y., and whose poems offer only a slight resonance of anything ``regional,'' much less North Carolinan. Work by James Applewhite, on the other hand, is North Carolinian right down to the tobacco leaf. Evocations of rural tobacco farming appear in his poems with a lyricism as surprising as it is Southern. So while uneven, this ``bouquet'' has a delightful aroma-varied, and pungent with a sense of place. (Nov.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807844830
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
11/18/1994
Edition description:
1
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.79(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Editor Michael McFee, working with the University of North Carolina Press, has done an admirable job of gathering and sifting the abundance of excellent poetry from a state whose literary bounty has long been as inexplicable as it is refreshing.—Southern Humanities Review

This 'bouquet' has a delightful aroma—varied, and pungent with a sense of place.—Publishers Weekly

Fifteen strong poets from one single state, all active and writing at present, is more than enough to fill the Tar Heel heart with pride. From Adcock, Ammons, and Applewhite, through Chappell, Harmon, McFee, Price, and Seay, they are all speaking eloquently of sights and feelings nurtured here among us. Their poetry, like a moving backlight, illumines its varying subjects—everything from gardens to kitchen sinks, a heron by a pond, a country church, landscape from mountains to sea coast, the heart knowledge of kindred and others.—Elizabeth Spencer

The poems McFee has chosen are not arcane, esoteric, nor self-involved, and though some are demanding they are still accessible, which means they begin immediately to yield delight that increases upon further reflection and study.—Georgia Review

If you have never loved someone who died, or stepped through weeds, or drunk a Dr. Pepper, or worn a ring on your finger, then do not read this book. Otherwise, take it home. You will want to read it at least once a year, and you will find that each time it is new.—Clyde Edgerton

It certainly stands out on a shelf of anthologies. . . . It is quite fine—probably the best new anthology I've read for ages. . . . I was delighted to get the book, and it is one I will return to often.—Dana Gioia

Cheers to Michael McFee and the University of North Carolina Press for letting these voices be heard.—Raleigh News & Observer

This is a wonderful collection of many years of serious work.—North Carolina Libraries

Adcock, Ammons, Angelou, Applewhite, Barrax, Byer, Chappell, Harmon, Ludvigson, McFee, Miller, Morgan, Price, Seay, Williams—you'd be hard put to come up with a more distinguished list, irrespective of regional roots. McFee has included what might be considered the poets' standard anthology pieces along with less well-known, but deserving, poems.—Ron Wallace, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Meet the Author

Michael McFee has published six books of poems, including Earthly and Colander, and is editor of This Is Where We Live: Short Stories by 25 Contemporary North Carolina Writers. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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