Beauty Strip (Texas Review Press, 2014)
In the midst of overwhelming natural beauty, rendered with such sensuous language that the reader of William Kelley Woolfitt’s first full-length collection well-nigh swoons in delight, hides desecration, the earth left raw and bleeding behind the “beauty strip” the coal companies create to block from view their destruction. Therein lies the metaphorical paradox of this stirring, profoundly moving book of poems, the destruction that lies behind the disguise meant to allow us to keep living our lives in a state of unknowing. Around that troubling central image, however, pulses the natural world, “center and zenith” as Woolfitt describes it in “Ring of Earth,” echoing James Still’s abiding River of Earth. Through the beauty of his poetry, Woolfitt restores the world so carelessly and greedily desecrated. Stephen Spender once described poetry as “enchanted utterance.” Here is that utterance. Listen, and listen again, to its songs and its warnings.
–Kathryn Stripling Byer, author of Wildwood Flower and Descent
poems from Beauty Strip: “Gauley River Blues,” reprinted in Virginia Quarterly Review’s Instapoety Series; “Absentee,” reprinted in r.kv.r.y.; “Water Shrew as the Apostle Peter,” originally appeared in Town Creek Poetry; “Vanishing Lines,” originally appeared in Still: the Journal
Charles of the Desert (Paraclete Press, forthcoming)
poems from Charles of the Desert: “Cricket Song” in The Christian Century; “Teresa of Avila Compares the Soul to a Palm Cabbage” in Literary Bohemian; “My Father As Weather Formation” forthcoming in Blackbird
William Kelley Woolfitt is the author of two collections of poetry, Beauty Strip (2014) and Charles of the Desert (forthcoming).
He is a native of north-central West Virginia. He has worked as a camp counselor, bookseller, ballpark peanuts vendor, and teacher of computer literacy to senior citizens. He holds an MA from Hollins University and an MFA and PhD from Pennsylvania State University. His chapbook of fiction, The Boy with Fire in His Mouth, won the Epiphany Editions Contest. His poems and short stories have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Water~Stone Review, Appalachian Heritage, Cincinnati Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Ninth Letter. He is an assistant professor of English at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.
header photograh: Yellow Spring Mill (Sepia), zizzybaloobah
abandoned mill site near the Cacapon River in Yellow Spring, WV