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Elevating the Ordinary

The poetry of Robert Morgan. Backyard

Robert Morgan is one of America's finest younger poets. Often referred to as a regional poet, his work recounts the beauty and the way of life he knew in the mountains of North Carolina. Morgan has published eleven books of poetry and has received numerous awards, among them a Guggenheim fellowship, a fellowship at the Bellagio Conference in Italy, and the North Carolina Literary Award. Since 1971, he has taught at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Backyard. Canoes of watermelon rind, pecked and pocked by chickens, float near cabbage leaves. The wet spot where dish water was thrown shows bits of grits and crumbs and bright tomato skins. Coffee grounds are darker than soil. Chicken tracks have set in the sun. The hubcap used for watering pan is troubled by a bee that sips its humor. A page of news stuck in mud pricks up an ear. A dead mirror dries like a fish scale. The spirits of rot burn a sour ghost. Such sadness at the back of things, a stillness of place behind the ordinary, such a miracle of drabness.

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