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Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

New Books by Merrill Gilfillan

In new titles on September 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Now available, two new books by Merrill Gilfillan, one of essays and the other of poetry:

The Warbler Road. Flood Editions ISBN 978-0-9819520-4-8 $15.95. In these twenty-six short essays, Merrill Gilfillan records his encounters with wood warblers as they flit through North American landscapes on their migratory paths. With precision, appetite, and a touch of whimsy, he sketches the tiny birds in their surroundings, perfecting the art of what he elsewhere calls “alfresco writing.” Throughout, The Warbler Road testifies to birding as a meditative, even votive dedication and a fundamental mode of attention to the world: “When I walk out with binoculars in May and September, it is often the fly fisherman in Yeats’s poem I have in mind as I move along the path. We are both out to discover and authenticate the morning, to break the glaze of habitude and mark, for an hour or so, the weave and fine points of the season and its day-in-place.” Peter Matthiessen describes The Warbler Road as “A bird book for poets, precisely and evocatively observed, beautifully written. Would that such a eulogy existed for every family of birds.”

The Bark of the Dog. Flood Editions ISBN 978-0-9819520-5-5 $14.95. In The Bark of the Dog, Merrill Gilfillan summons lyric equivalents to landscapes and day shapes, drawing on off-hand song, bird’s-eye bearings, and the vortical power of place names. Like Basho’s haiku, Gilfillan’s poems are anchored in time as well as space: an hour of the day, inflected by thunder or a pear; a month of the year, marked by the trees-in-wind or birds “moving through the mesh of the dangerous starlight.” Whether in casual epistles or country blues, we find ourselves immersed in the phenomenal world, propelled by the twin forces of curiosity and affinity: “When you get to Owl River / picture these poems / flying over the hills.”