The poetry in COAL, BABY reflects Anne Barnhill’s growing up years spent in the beautiful, wild country of West Virginia. Living in the mountains and observing Appalachian culture inspired the poems and they are both stark and untamed, much like the hills themselves. This chapbook is Barnhill’s tribute to the country that she holds forever in her heart.
Though Anne Barnhill has published both fiction and nonfiction before, Coal, Baby proves that she has been a poet all along. With a powerful sense of place and time, in the coal country of West Virginia, these poems bring to life the people of that place and time, in portraits of family and community, food, days underground and days and nights above ground. There is a wonderful, hard-won, sometimes painful, sometimes celebratory sense of home here, which you will not soon forget.
Author of Gap Creek and Terroir
Welcome to Coal Country, USA, where the angel of Appalachia speaks. Here, the sense of place runs strong and deep as a seam of coal, that “shiny fire rock.” And what is found there? Pine trees and hemlocks, curved roads pocked with potholes, linguini and borscht, kielbasa and lasagna, soup beans and corn bread, gypsies, mountain men, grizzled miners, and bluegrass music threading throughout. “All they coax is coal,” “black lungs / to match the ore they find,” but you, the reader, will find nothing but gold in these lines, and they will kindle a fire that will warm you on even the coldest night.
~Barbara Crooker, author of Radiance, Line Dance, and More