Robert Morgan’s newest collection of poetry is a treasury of snapshots in time, celebrating the past and present in Morgan’s native region of western North Carolina and the Green River Valley. Topsoil Roadfeatures two parts, the first flowing smoothly from Cherokee history to the arrival of the poet’s Welsh forebears. The second eloquently depicts the intricacies of nature and how they are subjected to the world of man. Morgan brings alive forgotten sights like the banjo maker knocking on trees to find the perfect sound for his handcrafted instruments or the rough, everyday artistry of chickens scratching their marks in hard-packed dirt.
Whether describing the Cherokee Chief Attakullakulla in London or the way a zebra spider glides across the sky, Morgan casts each poem with elegance and a rare sense of wonder, turning minute observations of the commonplace into portraits of delicate and amazing beauty. Throughout the collection, his voice and vision remain strong as he employs an impressive range of poetic forms, including pantoums, sonnets, couplets, and blank verse. Morgan’s own words may best distill the impression Topsoil Road leaves: “each cell / a hex perfect as a snowflake, / a sealed relic of sun and time / and roots of many acres fixed in crystal-tight arrays, in rows / and lattices of sweeter latin / from scattered prose of meadow, woods.”
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