Heather's Reviews > Dismantling the Hills

Dismantling the Hills by Michael McGriff
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's review
Apr 27, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: library-books, poetry
Read in April, 2009

These are poems from a world I don’t know, the Pacific Northwest of small towns and the lumber industry: paper mills and logging roads, slash piles, steam donkeys, choker setters, the narrator and his father bucking timber. It’s desolate beauty or sometimes just desolation, staying, stuck. “I could say I left town for both of us,” the narrator of “Iron” says, but then, later in the poem, admits, “But I never left” (p 1). I like “Ash and Silt,” the images of it: “the smell of orange peels and cinnamon,” shortening and pine pitch (p 6). My favorite poem in the book is “Coos Bay,” a string of images to make a town: “The World’s Largest Lumber Port,” a sign announces in the first line, then “Japanese glass floats, cranberry bogs/mooring lines, salmon roe,/swing shifts, green chain, millwrights” (p 11). A close second, though, is “Brief Elegy on the Tip of a Match,” the simple grace of it, the wonderful image of “the leaves going silver/like fish changing direction” (p 33). You can listen to the author read a slightly different version of "Brief Elegy on the Tip of a Match here, and hear him read a slightly different version of "Coos Bay" here.
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