Handspan of Red Earth

Handspan of Red Earth

An Anthology of American Farm Poems

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197 pages, 4 lithographs

"…a marvelous collection of poems, replete with all the energy of the earth and those who have dealt with it hand to hand, knuckle to knuckle, despair to despair, affirmation to affirmation."—Pattiann Rogers

"One instantly recognizes, in the best verse of this admirable collection, that a celebration of the farm and farm life becomes a celebration of seeing the extraordinary in both the ordinary and the common."—Western American Literature

"Although one may at first question the aesthetic value of an anthology that brings together poems about the seemingly unprovocative theme of American farms, even a quick perusal of this remarkable collection should dispel any doubts about the project's worthiness. A passionate commitment to the subject of farm life is what makes these poems so engaging, so moving and so memorable."—Publishers Weekly

“From our nation’s beginnings, America’s farms have always been one of our most precious resources. . . . The creative and poignant poetry in this anthology creates yet another important tie between its readers and our farmland. With fewer and fewer Americans living on farms, each poem serves as a goodwill ambassador to a way of life with which many are, sadly, unfamiliar.”—Ralph E. Grossi, President, American Farmland Trust

“Congratulations on bringing together this wonderful collection of poems about our farming heritage. Not one of us in the United States of America can fully appreciate what our farmers and farmland have meant, and still mean, to our great nation.”—Jack C. Parnell, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Poems of farm life are very much an American tradition and, despite our industrial heritage, in some ways they depict our national dream. Distinctly apart from the English pastoral motif, these hard-edged, reflective poems of the joys, tribulations, and realizations of rural life continue a tradition which began with Bradstreet and persisted through Whittier and Frost to the various and passionate poets included in this rich anthology.

Here is contemporary poetry about the archetypal but ever-changing work of farming the American land. Catherine Marconi has included pieces from a wide variety of poets writing on the various landscapes of American farms: from the rocky New England fields through the deep topsoil of the heartland and the fecund tobacco, cotton, and vegetable lands of the South, from the hardscrabble cattle ranches of the Southwest to the verdant fields of the West. These poems, by some of our country's finest living poets, will be evocative and revealing to anyone who has ever lived or worked on a farm.

Included in the volume are poems by, among others, Galway Kinnell, Gary Soto, Dennis Schmitz, Annie Dillard, Donald Hall, Ai, Tom McGrath, Gretel Ehrlich, William Stafford, Mary Swander, Gary Snyder, Larry Levis, Maxine Kumin, William Heyen, Hayden Carruth, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Stanley Kunitz.