A review of

King Driftwood

by Robert Minhinnick

Central question: Who is the saint of sand?
Format: 96 pp., paperback; Price: £9.95; Publisher: Carcanet (UK); Editor: Michael Schmidt; Place where poet now lives: Porthcawl, Wales; Other places poet has lived: Albania, Saskatchewan, California; Places named in “The Saint of Tusker Rock”: Cwn Y Gaer, Stonehenge, Babylon, St. John’s Church (Porthcawl), Twmpath Tom Brython, Exmoor, The High Tide Arcade, “The Highways of the Leaf,” “A Tribunal of Trilobites”; Representative lines: “Every day the texts, the threats. / Sand sold my number / to the sea. I’m thinking of coming round, / says a voice. Because I know / where you live.”

Americans don’t know Minhinnick yet; British, and especially Welsh, readers know the Welsh writer as an environmental campaigner, an inveterate traveler, and a maker of harsh, strange, thoughtful verse, alert at once to the sciences and to folklore, and built up from many small fragments, like sets of postcards, or like mortarless stone walls. Some of his poems indict time, history, or nature itself for dashing all our hopes; some indict humankind, or subsets thereof (nation-states, e.g.) for waging war or poisoning the globe. His best verse delivers both indictments at once: a poet of bitterness, of the slow burn, of observation that modulates easily into defiance or despair, he feels at “home / where the earth ends,” assembling “tiny dark splinters” he sees almost everywhere.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Stephen Burt

Stephen Burt’s book of essays, Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry, is out now!

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