Unthinkable: Selected Poems 1976-2004
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Unthinkable: Selected Poems 1976-2004

4.5 of 5 stars 4.50  ·  rating details  ·  14 ratings  ·  4 reviews
Irene McKinney's work of three decades is represented here. Her language is direct, vernacular, forceful, and unmistakeable. These poems are directed to a listener, not overheard, in a tone and with a stance of honest intimacy. These poems occur in the rhythm of speech, not of written discourse. From the beginning, McKinney has been aware of the modulations of the spoken v...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 15th 2009 by Red Hen Press
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Irene McKinney's Unthinkable: Selected Poems 1976 - 2004 is a fine volume of collected works. See my review at Rattle:


I read it slowly; it was like taking deep drinks. Maybe because of where I am in my life, I loved best the poems that speak to breaking, healing, beginning again, regaining a sense of self, writing to save one's life:
"At 24," "Stained," "Ready," "Her Fascicles" (fascicles = parts of a book published in separate sections):

"The light on this page is not bright,
but the light in my mind is.
I felt for a scrap...
I grasped the pen as hard as I could
and wrote four lines....
I put it in a packet
with the...more
Red Hen Press
"Irene McKinney’s Unthinkable: Selected Poems, is a daring, vital and wholly original collection that brings poems from all her previous books back into print. The geography of these poems is rural, and she evokes that world brilliantly and totally unsentimentally in poem after poem and in a prose piece, “The Durrett Farm, West Virginia: A Map.” The emotional territory of McKinney’s poems is otherness and its many guises. Hermit-like, she invents both poems and someone to hear them, from the dar...more
Gorgeous use of language.
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