THE WEAVE ROOM by Michael Chitwood


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A journalist by trade, Chitwood relies on a documentarian's sense of the sociological in these poems about life at a southern textile mill. His third collection blends autobiography as well, since, like Phillip Levine, he spent his own college summers working among the locals he profiles in numerous pieces: the fellow who mouths song under the looms, deafening noise (""The Singing""); another who worked with his eyes closed in prayer (""The Preaching""); the woman who made collectible quilts in her spare time (""Mrs. P.""...); and one who had to quit because of carpal tunnel syndrome (""In the Break Room."") Chitwood captures the sights and sounds of work, from bathing gears in grease to the machine's endless slamming. Like Levine, though, he indulges in sentimental agitprop in poems such as ""The Weaving,"" which recalls the proletarian poetry of the '30s. Chitwood's just-folks simplicity suffers from his heavy-handed ironies, especially in poems about unionization. At best, his plaintive verse bears witness to a lost way of life.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 82pp
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago