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One Unblinking Eye

Authors: Norman Williams

Published by Waywiser

ISBN: 9781904130000

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The poems in One Unblinking Eye cast a steady and serious gaze at life outside the American beltways. Whether testifying at a prayer meeting in Indiana, tramping the backwoods of northern New England, or working an oil derrick in the Gulf, the inhabitants of these poems live on the margins of U.S. society. "They are the left behind, odd-mannered ones/ Who speak in starts," Mr. Williams writes of the last residents of a West Virginia mining town. Describing the woods of central Maine, he speaks of "lives scraped from sides/ Of deer and garden plots; where double-wides / On concrete pads abut a hard-pan road."

It is the art of these poems to convince the reader that these lives matter. There is desperation here, and the threat of madness, but there is an equal measure of determination and faith. In one poem, Mr. Williams writes of a fisherman haunted by his daughter's death, who "casts his line / In hopes a flash and strike will draw him back." These words could describe the poet's method as well. The work in this collection is built on a supple metrical foundation; it is filled with glancing rhymes and wordplay; and it is touched off by striking images. It is, in other words, composed with care, and it richly rewards a careful reading.
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