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October 2008
88 pages  

6 x 7.75
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Dismantling the Hills
McGriff, Michael

A book of poems that explore working-class, rural American life, in all its complication and contradiction.

Read a press release about this book
Michael McGriff was born and raised in Coos Bay, Oregon. He has received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from The Poetry Foundation, and a Michener Fellowship from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the translator of Tomas Tranströmer's The Sorrow Gondola, and his work has appeared in Slate, Agni, Field, the Missouri Review, and Poetry, among other publications.
“The poems in Dismantling the Hills are love songs to the forests of the Pacific Northwest, to its small towns and its people, to its wildness: 'the dust of stars, the grain of timber, / the burls in the hearts of men.' Distinguished by their masterful craft and human sympathy, these poems constitute not just an unusually fine and readable first collection, but an evocation of place and spirit worthy of comparison with such American classics as Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs and Frost's North of Boston.”—Ed Ochester

“These are poems of place and generation, lyrically intense and intensely crafted. But the force of this work lies not just in narrative and memory, but in the refusal at every point to allow locale to become mere landscape. The rivers, fields, and ridges of these poems are not decorative. They are alive with work-with chainsaws, tractors, work crews, and wood chip piles. Most of all, they are vivid with hurt and loved human beings, fiercely imagined and named. This, above all, is what makes this such a powerful and persuasive first volume of poems.”—Eavan Boland

“A powerful first collection of narratives with spark and intelligence.”—Library Journal

“The type of collection that makes you feel badly about yourself as a poet. It is so deceptively simple that one easily says, ‘Sure, I could have written something like that.’ The problem is, “Dismantling the Hills’ is actually a deceptively complex volume. It is a collection of poems of place, set almost entirely in a small factory town in Oregon on the Pacific coast. McGriff delivers the sights, sounds, and smells of this coastal area replete with teeming life and the oftentimes dismal weather. But there is majestic beauty in these descriptions, and it is clear that McGriff honors this place as a place--not as mere setting, but as a distinct element of his verse.” —Gently Read Literature

“A lean, mean, invigorating work saturated with the living spirit of Northwest regionalism.”—Medford (OR) Mail Tribune

“A lyricist at heart, McGriff is a masterful maker of metaphor . . . The result is a swiftly moving volume of poetry that leaves us with a sense of longing . . .for our own childhoods and for those few years before adulthood when it was curiosity, for the natural world and those passing through it, that defined us.”—Third Coast

Complete Description Reviews
Pitt Poetry Series Table of Contents
Poetry Read a selection from this book

WINNER OF THE 2007 AGNES LYNCH STARRETT POETRY PRIZE Dismantling the Hills is a testament to working-class, rural American life. In a world of machinists, loggers, mill workers, and hairdressers, the poems collected here bear witness to a landscape, an industry, and a people teetering on the edge of ruin. From tightly constructed narratives to expansive and surreal meditations, the various styles in this book not only reflect the poet's range, but his willingness to delve into his obsessions from countless angles Full of despair yet never self-loathing, full of praise yet never nostalgic, Dismantling the Hills is both ode and elegy. McGriff's vision of blue-collar life is one of complication and contradiction, and the poems he makes are authentic, unwavering, and unapologetically American.


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