In his latest collection, Leland Kinsey, the "unofficial poet laureate of the Northeast Kingdom" (Vermont Sunday Magazine), brings the same careful attention and gift for observation to the people and landscape of Tanzania that he regularly has applied to the contours of northern Vermont. In poems that document his encounters with a strange-yet-familiar landscape, Kinsey distills his experience and that of his first cousin, who has lived and worked there for twenty years, into straightforward yet highly polished language that suits the austerity of rural Africa as well as it does that of the Northeast Kingdom. Characteristically clear and powerful, these poems keenly appreciate both the similarities and the differences between African life and the life Kinsey knows in Vermont.
|Publisher:||University Press of New England|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.33(d)|
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An Umber Sky
Circling the airport in dangerous winds,
we see the huge whitewashed greenhouses
on the shoulders of Mount Meru
where the light and climate are right
for the European cut-flower trade.
The light is not right this day,
the whitewashed glass is yellowed,
as though lit with weak incandescence,
and the surface of the world seems blurred.
Roughly grounded in our landing,
the plane jostled even in its runout taxi,
we see dust devils towering
like great smokestacks and smoke plumes
doing the work of picking up
the crust and dust the drought created
and turning it into umber sky,
no part of which is blue,
no part of which is not dry.
Though not tornados, if the twisters strike
dead on they will lay
termite riddled buildings low
and tear the spindly, tree-trunk scaffolding
off the upper stories of concrete buildings
being poured. The entire population
breathes its own landscape,
smells the soil it has compacted
and stripped of cover,
and sees its richness roil the sky
now painted raw and burnt.
Table of ContentsMy Cousin in Tanzania Before the Long Rains Getting There Lushoro In the Rain Shadow of Mount Meru A Southern Sky Village Furrow Junk Toys The Golden Farmer African Barrows Pit Sawyers The Night Guards At the Gate Mother of Vinegar The Trip Out Yogurt Hive Logs The Desert Owl Carrying Goats Orange Benediction Dying From Lack of Thirst The Place Where Lions Used to Live Bitter Cassava African Ferries Ancient Ironworks Swahili Boats Canyonlands The Second Wife White Bats Omunya Shoveling Fish Termites An Umber Sky Training Sessions Baobab Fruit Arusha Art Alley Doctor Sokombi