The Sleeping House

by Dan Ratelle

On the surface, domesticity is the linking theme of this pamphlet; but place and time, and the balance between nature and artifice are some of its deeper preoccupations. It is a search for the pastoral in a post-agricultural, post-industrial landscape. Set in rural Massachusetts it asks us to consider how we can live if not rooted to place. It explores abandoned roads and houses, Formal yet frank and conversational, erudite though fuelled by beer and a simmering working-class dissatisfaction, The Sleeping House fits well in the Anglo-American tradition.

Daniel Rattelle is a poet and arts journalist from Northampton, Massachusetts where he lives with his wife, two children, and occasionally a rafter of wild turkeys. His poems and prose have appeared recently in Measure, Dappled Things, The Columbia Review, and The Golden Walkman. He studied English at Westfield State University and is taking a gap year before attending graduate school. Outside of poetry, he enjoys listening to classical music, hiking, whisky, and watching Inspector Morse. This is his second poetry pamphlet.

 

Just as the stories of Andre Dubus once chronicled the straitened life of the old mill towns of eastern Massachusetts, so Daniel Rattelle, in this new book of poems, captures the life and landscape of its western region. That Presbyterian valley of Emily Dickinson, that place of genteel colleges, of stone walled, moldering but enduring farms, and small towns ever down at the heel and nursing their wounds over long nights with a case of cheap beer Rattelle knows and loves it all. As it was for Robert Frost, it remains a place where the natural world flames like the autumn leaves with spiritual drama, and Rattelle s poems shake between a prosaic language expressive of everyday life and those more taut, metaphysical measures that remind us, mystery and revelation are inscribed, as it were, just beneath a single coat of paint.

- JAMES MATTHEW WILSON




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