In his fifth collection, one of New England’s most respected poets brings us the inhabitants of his region as they struggle to contend with life’s darknesses: housewives in night school; a tractor-tinkering stepfather who rescues an outdated encyclopedia from the town dump; a boy at bedtime who, entranced by a woman’s voice on a slowing turning phonograph, listens “to her fall/ fast asleep/ with the needle/ at her throat.” How McNair’s characters talk about their difficulties — or why they can’t — is central to this volume, as are meditations in which the poet speaks directly to the reader about the trials and affirmations of human experience. Whether homages to “Old Cadillacs” or reflections on “Why We Need Poetry,” these poems demonstrate McNair’s ability to tell a life in a line and to disclose the knowledge of the heart.
“He is a much loved Maine poet grounded in small town rural life. He has a distinguished career in Maine and nationally, his poems are accessible to a wide demographic and he is one of the great storytellers in contemporary poetry.”
—Donna McNeil, Director of the Maine Arts Commission