These solid, earthy poems are written simply, with heart and ability. Solemn and adept, Morrill’s touch is distinguishable: understated, yet direct; human and thoroughly convincing. Donald Morrill is a writer of life; he is a poet the literary community will be hearing much more of.
When you read Donald Morrill’s poems you hear an echo of voices—Donald Justice’s ear for the line; Walt Whitman’s penchant for listing and his great range; Wallace Stevens’ inventiveness and play of language, but you never hear enough of these masters to lose touch with Morrill’s hard earned voice. Morrill’s poems are his own. They are smart, adeptly observant, and sometimes playful and punning (“Even if boredom seems the way of all flash”). He pays attention to detail, to line, to music, to all the elements of composition. Words don’t fall accidentally to the page. This is the work of a mature poet now reaching his full stride.
What I admire most about these poems is Donald Morrill’s talent for fusing the personal and the political. He speaks as a citizen of history when he investigates the markets in China, when he revisits the Iowa of his childhood, when he contemplates the barracks at Auschwitz. He shows us how regimes—familial, social—reside within us, even as we strive for self-awareness and social justice. And in his love poems, with good humor, he makes the painful, ecstatic, complex journey toward another person, ‘which each of us has every right to want.’