Only The Salt
Doug Underhill’s collection of verse, Only The Salt, is divided into three parts, Prose Poems, Human Nature, and Natural World. The last two of these, very good of their kind, draw their sources from common traditional attitudes and take their shapes from the forms of older poems. They testify to the continuily value and relevance of the forms and content in which they are couched. Had they made up the entire volume, it would have been a worthy continuation of indigenous tradition, always uplifting and occasionally moving in its moments of individual perception. There is always room in a book for poems like “Pumpkin Ripeners”, “In Pumpkin-Grinner Art”, “Only The Salt”, “Dandelion”, “Relics Of A Season”, “The Spawn”, “Crows”, “It Is The Machine” and “Snowflakes”.
But if you want in poetry what John Milton called “the precious life and blood of a master spirit”, read Underhill’s prose poems. In these nearly every one a wonder of its kind there is none of finding a form, and attitude, and a topic, and using energy to stick to these. What each prose poem represents is a naked wrestling match between a poet-Jacob and the power of his imagination challenged by the very presence of his angel-object. These poems are such pure radiations of the intensity of mind over matter that I hesitate to pick out any one of them as a signal example.
— Dr Fred Cogswell
Doug Underhill was born in Miramichi, New Brunswick, and has lived there all of his life. He has been a teacher for over 30 years and is English Department Head at Miramichi Valley High School as well as being a fishing columnist, sports writer and journalist. He has published one book of poetry, The Lazy Time Of Day, three children’s books in “The Popcorn Cat and Pumpkin Moon” series, and a humourous Miramichi dictionary titled City of Miramichi: An Interpretive Guide. Only The Salt was his sixth book.
November 1997 / 9 x 6 (tp) / 96 pp / poetry
Broken Jaw Press
ISBN 0-921411-35-9 / $17.95