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Praise for Working the Dirt

About the Book
Malls and multiple subdivisions squat on grandpa's farm, mules gone to glue, then up sprouts this callused and sweaty book, poems more doublewide than skinny, ready to sock it to the video arcades. What we got here, folks? A Bible for scarecrows? A green weed in a black crack in Wal-Mart's bad dream? A benediction and a prophecy (a fading-in-out radio station buzzsawing). The only question the good people have is, How come nothing here by the great DC Berry?
Working the Dirt is a harvest of Southern poets' best words about the land. These poems still have dirt under their fingernails, still hold cool, spring moisture on their leaves.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of wannabe southern writers north of the Mason-Dixon line, and I am one of them. The literature of the south has its own unique community of readers and writers deeply engaged with place and history, and we have nothing like that on the Great Plains. This wonderful, splendidly edited anthology makes the pain of northern exile seem even worse. I have read every poem in Working the Dirt with great delight but also with bitter Yankee envy.
Some of my favorite writers are included here, with works describing some of my favorite scenes of Southern agrarian life. Its a collection that brings back autumn orchards, fried green tomatoes, nodding sunflowers, wild strawberries, and that sharp sense of personal history, redolent of smokehouse and battlefield, for which the South is noted.
Virgil sanctified farming by lending it the prestige of poetry. Jennifer Horne's thoughtfully edited Working the Dirt upgrades the Roman poet by reversing the gesture: here, farming lends poetry its honor. In the process, many of the best poets America can claim leave the tug of nihilism behind and, by refreshing spirit with earth, reassert their prophetic role as bards.
I dare anyone who loves the soil and great poetry to pick up this book for a quick browse-an impossible feat. With the finest line-up of southern poets imaginable, from the esteemed and beloved Wendell Berry and Henry Taylor (two of my favorites) to other lesser known, but gifted talents, this book bursts with the sweet promise and mystery of life a gardener feels each spring.