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Winner, 2021 Miller Williams Poetry Prize
Michael McGriff’s Eternal Sentences bears witness to the world of gravel roads, working-class families, and geographic isolation in poems that illuminate both common occurrence and the territories of the surreal. Here, in rendering every line as a single sentence, McGriff depicts a world seen through fragments, quick leaps, and wild associations. Haunted as much by place and people as by the possibilities of image-making itself, Eternal Sentences is a song for the hidden depots of rural America.
About the Author
Michael McGriff is the author of several books, including the poetry collection Early Hour and a story collection coauthored with J. M. Tyree, Our Secret Life in the Movies, an NPR Best Book of 2014. His work has been honored with a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Poetry London, The Believer, Tin House, and American Poetry Review. He teaches creative writing at the University of Idaho.
“A blend of the low-rent sociology of Raymond Carver with the quirky imagination of Richard Brautigan . . . Eternal Sentences will come at its readers as a series of happily endless delights.”
—Billy Collins, Series Editor
“Eternal Sentences is a collection of small wonders, lines and stanzas and sentences that expand with each reading. The poems hold inside them their own eternities. McGriff is the master of the miniature narrative, but these poems are as much visions as stories. These ‘sentences’ are music. Profound, unsettling, but conversational, these poems are written in the language of our time and place while transcending it. There is not a poem in the collection that doesn’t bear rereading. The mystery remains mysterious even as the brilliance of this poet’s intelligence grows more obvious to the reader. It’s a book to return to again and again.”
—Laura Kasischke, author of Where Now
“In these poems, and in the sequencing of these poems, the reader is met in each line, each movement, with the stunning proximity between bleakness and wonder. This book is musical syllable to syllable, portraying the many textures of vitality, grief, economics, government, ecology, and the afterlife. This collection covers such ground, such energy, while committing to brevity and to the one-sentence line. Michael McGriff’s career is a catalogue of stellar work, and Eternal Sentences strikes me as more light among the intricacies of the trees.”
—Marcus Jackson, author of Pardon My Heart
“Michael McGriff is not only an uncanny and meticulous observer, he is, I believe, of the moment where poems come from—and he intuits them from anywhere and anything. Every line in every poem is an intimate and varying unit, a measurement of insight and experience. Every poem, despite its brevity, holds within it a vivid and moving cinematic precision. It is textured, lucid, and lit like amber.”
—Malena Mörling, author of Astoria