The Missing Mountain
""The Missing Mountain"describes a long, distinguished career as both a poet and teacher. It highlights all the things that we've come to depend on in Michael Collier's poetry: his wide range of reference, his ability to formulate surprising connections, and his depth of intelligence and emotion. Where most contemporary poets look for the metaphorical in the literal, Collier does the opposite: he takes a hard look at "how things actually are," giving readers a crystal clear view of his observations, from fraught relations between family members and between lovers, to pedophilic priests and the ethics of beekeeping, to explorations in the densest of forests, ruminations into the most forbidding of deserts, and down to the terrors of the bottom of the ocean. In the section of new poems, Collier turns to the other animals who share our planet. Here we find an array of recognizable characters: an irascible stray cat with an unlikely dependent, an opossum; an imperious-if clueless-dog; a sage, world-weary goat; and the touching domesticity of bluebirds. So much could we learn from our fellow creatures, if we tried; and, after all the centuries of human consumption, how little we've actually learned from each other:"If they would stay just where they are all morning," Collier writes of some industrious crows he chances upon in a clearing, "they'd be the monument to the history they're looking for." This new and selected poems represents the best of what Phoenix Poets has strived for over the years: nonconformity to prevailing trends in literary culture, a poetry attuned to a world external to the self and shared with others, in language that tries to engage the full range of our faculties and sensibilities, bringing the widest range of consciousness to bear upon the widest range of experience"