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Clean Coal Burn

Kelsay Books / ISBN: 978-1954353-59-6 / $18.50

Early on in Clean Coal Burn Kip Knott says, "Somewhere a fire burns / in the belly of the world." The lit-and-burning fuse is, thus, summoned to help us see the vainglorious America in which we find ourselves. Since there is no such thing as "clean coal," Knott is insisting on Truth as more than elegy. If this book is an elegy, and it is, it is also rife with discovery and hope. I like and trust the voice in Clean Coal Burn; it's a voice we all know comes from someone who would rather cough up a lung, bit by precious bit, than lie to you. Someone who seeks "to harness loneliness like a plow / and make something out of hard ground."

                         Roy Bentley

In Kip Knott's Clean Coal Burn, the rural beauty of southeastern Ohio is threatened by coal, sulfur, and fire. Natural beauty and human love keep trying to hold on. In plainspoken, elegiac language, the speakers in these poems struggle to understand and forgive forefathers, and to understand wives, sons, animals, and ancestors. This is a loving, courageous collection of poems about vulnerable humans and landscapes as they try to endure and--briefly, modestly--to flourish.

                         John Hazard

Clean Coal Burn belongs in the tradition of James Wright, whose poems of coal mines and slag heaps nevertheless reveal love of a scarred but resilient land. In these poems beauty is found in unlikely places such as the haze over a corn field or the words of a man whose throat has been destroyed by black lung disease but who writes that there is beauty in the afterbirth of a sheep which steams in the spring snow “as if the land were alive.” While there is death—of miners or parents—there is also resurrection—in the new growth and new generations.

                         Deborah Fleming

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