Karen's Reviews > Shut Up Shut Down

Shut Up Shut Down by Mark Nowak
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's review
Feb 15, 2010

really liked it

Last year, I read Mark Nowak's book, Coal Mountain Elementary, a work that is not so much a collection of poetry, but a collage of memoirs, interviews, and formal reports exploring the world of coal mining in both America and China. I was fascinated by this book -- so much so that I knew I had to travel back in publication time a bit and read Nowak's earlier book, Shut Up Shut Down.

Shut Up Shut Down is not for every poetry reader -- much like Coal Mountain Elementary, this collection is made up of personal interviews, ekphrastic poems, and found lists. In general, Shut Up Shut Down explores the effects of big business greed on the working class -- steel workers, retail workers, coal miners, etc... The book actually contains bibliographies citing source material. More than anything, Nowak's work reminds me of the work that Muriel Rukeyser did with her collection, The Book of the Dead, which documented the details of the Hawk's Nest Incident, an industrial incident where hundreds of miners died of silicosis.
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