Author: Merrill Gilfillan
Publisher: Flood Editions (2005)
With exuberance and economy, Merrill Gilfillan's Undanceable (Selected Poems 1965–2000) evokes the landscape of the American West through the geographic word. Place names, the texture of speech, and a certain aroma of nature permeate these pages. Ever alert to unforeseen connections, Gilfillan follows both eye and ear, his poems unfolding at the pace of consciousness.
"To indulge for a moment in a binary: there are companionable writers, whose work can be relied on to provide familiar comforts of style and competence, and there are the inventors, who often seem to be making no point at all until suddenly you are dangling from it. Merrill Gilfillan is of both parties, a dealer in Americana and jazz naturalist somewhere on the spectrum between Kerouac and Emerson. His deepest affinities are with two British eccentrics, however: Hopkins and Clare. [. . .] Collectors already in possession of Gilfillian’s ’82 book River to Rivertown and his ’97 Satin Street may note that the Selected mainly reprints those two and decide to skip out on this new offering. That would be a mistake; the selections from the early work are every bit as vital as Gilfillan’s prose, and every bit as genial as his work in toto. The uncommon quality he keeps exhibiting in book after book is sheer alert joy at living — surviving, thriving, waning, and reviving."