One must look to the great American novelists Faulkner, OConnor, Welty to find a writer whose work illuminates a very specific region. No American poet in recent memory has accomplished the transcendent act of writing completely out of a place without succumbing to regionalism, until Davis McCombs in his brilliant debut, Ultima Thule
(named the finest Yale Poets selection in years by Publishers Weekly
), and now in his second book, Dismal Rock. Ultima Thule
explored the subterranean world of Mammoth Cave; Dismal Rock
lifts the reader from that vast underground labyrinth into the magical and vanishing terrestrial world above it, opening with a brilliant sequence of poems called Tobacco Mosaic, which explores the terrible beauty of that most American commodity, tobacco.
While always firmly rooted in the sloping topography of South Central Kentucky, McCombs ranges seamlessly into unexpected territory in the books second half, giving us poems with subject matter as diverse as Rossetti robbing his wifes grave, the Elgin Marbles, and the genius of Bob Marley.
McCombss voice is brilliantly and deliberately restrained; its compassion is singular in current American letters.
About Davis Mccombs
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Published September 1, 2007
by Tupelo Press.
Literature & Fiction.