"If John Clare had toured the United States with Oscar Wilde, their notebooks, twisted together in a tornado and edited by Audubon and Escoffier, might have read like these poems: evocative, sophisticated, and as ever-in-the-present as memory must always be."--Tom Raworth
"The strongest poems feature a solitary, omniscient observer responding to the sky and land. . . . Deceptively simple, these poems reveal new beauties with each reading."--Publishers Weekly
"Go to New York and you'll be famous in five years," Ted Berrigan told Merrill Gilfillan in 1969. That time in New York gave rise to Gilfillan's first two books through Berkeley's Blue Wind Press--Skyliner and To Creature. The next 15 years included more poetry and two award-winning prose collections: Chokecherry Places: Essays from the High Plains (1998), which won the Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, and Magpie Rising (2000), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction.
This volume collects material from Gilfillan's books of poetry up through 1999's Satin Street and swatches of unpublished work from 1965 to 2000.Gilfillan's observations, etymologies, and riffs on classical and modern forms are constructed by equal parts naturalist and aesthete. He employs a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the literary and visual arts, philosophical treatises, musical forms, the natural world, and the everyday language that gets spoke along rivers.
Merrill Gilfillan was born in Ohio in 1945 and raised there. He attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1967, where he won the Major Hopwood Prize for poetry in his senior year. He attended the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop for two years, studying with Ted Berrigan, Anselm Hollo, and George Starbuck, among others. He lived and worked in New York City for eight years, and then moved to Colorado, where he wrote feature stories for Boulder and Denver newspapers. He makes his home in Colorado.