Dirt: Back to the land in poetry

By Errol Hess. Wetknee Books, 2016. 70 pages. $5.99/paperback; $0.99/eBook.

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As in his previous collection, Hunting Pennies (reviewed in FJ June/July 2016), Errol Hess explores the Appalachian way of life with all its physical demands and rough edges, farms and mines, wild beauty and stark gashes. These mostly narrative poems by a West Virginia-born poet who currently lives on a 36-acre tract are rooted in the mountains, and shine with the wonders of its landscapes:

Once when I was very alone / the moon rose huge over my window / sill and I drove seventy miles / chasing it down valley roads.

And once, as we stood on a cleared knob / partway up Clinch Mountain, the moon rose / level with us larger than a dozen suns.

In this day and age, is it still possible to live on the land? It certainly is fertile ground for poetry.

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