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Dirt (Poetry Series Volume 4) Paperback – July 1, 2001
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The most impressive aspect of McDougall's artistry is its invisibility. In simple lines she captures a sharply living moment: "You look up from leafing a magazine / and say something woven out of our years together / something only the two of us / would find amusing. / I think of this moment / as an incredible moth. / I want to keep it." The word economy appropriately describes McDougall's style, for economy derives from the ancient Greek for householder. And not only is the poet careful not to overspend words; she also draws her subjects from the most ordinary events and occasions. Household arguments, bedtime discussions, meals--in such mundane occurrences, McDougall finds vast hungers and driving compulsions. Her poems repay reading, rereading, and rereading. Patricia Monaghan
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...in the undiluted glare of the genuine, the land and its people are redeemed, if not wholly forgiven. --Judith Kitchen, The Georgia Review
McDougall's...reach is expansive, comprehensive...beautiful, witty, and unlike anyone else's. --Kelly Cherry, The Hollins Critic
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is sometimes described as noise.
it is not.
it is silence... (11)
By breaking down this metaphor and turning it on its back, McDougall exposes the ineffable underbelly of this scene. Paradoxically, we are brought to understand that the silence here should not be thought of as a "loud" silence; rather, it is the very wordlessness itself - the silence of the silence - that gives the situation its power.
Both Dirt and McDougall's latest book, Satisfied With Havoc, are comprehensive and approachable in style, the ordinary, yet crisp language lending a lucidity and a clarity of focus to the poems. In this quiet, understated voice, even the simple act of naming a bird or flower comes to feel sacred. Dirt concerns itself largely with character and with images of people going about their everyday lives. Farmers, widows and widowers, circus performers in their off-hours, and new, old, and estranged lovers all find their way into McDougall's observant glance. Satisfied With Havoc takes on a first-person view more consistently, lighting on many of the same themes as Dirt, but through a more intimate perspective. Both books are deeply personal, however, and both retain a keen and witty insight into the silent workings of the world.