The Cairns: New and Selected Poems represents over thirty years of writing and publishing poems, by author Bill Brown, beginning in the early 1980’s. The title poem uses cairns, stacked stones, metaphorically: “I stack words to remember what words alone/can’t say. The tongue is an eye, a poet wrote, / not just a choking muscle, fumbling with age. / The earth a grave of lost words, stones / and children’s bones; a cairn, itself, crude and holey… .”
Bill Brown has been honing his craft and writing some of the most emotionally engaging poetry available. With this new book, he has achieved what few contemporary poets have, a voice that is intellectually rigorous and linguistically accessible. These are poems in which love—desperate, dangerous, and courageous—brings us here, to this poet’s world, in all its evocative power.
—Kathryn Stripling Byer, Descent
Bill Brown has a wonderful gift for finding poetry in unlikely places—a brother’s hands, an old photograph, a church sign—and from these tatters of memory and attentiveness he has assembled a book filled with wisdom and memorable poems.
—Ron Rash, Poems: New and Selected
You end Bill Brown’s books envying his harmony with nature, his insights into current events, his relationship with his parents, his friends, and his spouse, his sense of humor, his very life… . He is a poet with perfect pitch for the human condition today.
—Mark Jarman, Bone Fires
What seems new here is a kind of Zen-like quality that has infiltrated and enlarged the poetic consciousness of these later life poems, lending them a marvelously limpid quality that urges a complex and unsentimental acceptance of our mutual human fate. Would that we all might reach a similar point of spiritual maturity as we make our own journeys. Barring that, we have Bill Brown’s poems to inspire and sustain us.
—Kate Daniels, Three Syllables Describing Addiction
Bill Brown is the author of ten collections of poetry and a writing textbook on which he collaborated with Malcolm Glass. During the past thirty years, he has published hundreds of poems and articles in college journals, magazines, and anthologies. In 1999, Brown wrote and co-produced the Instructional Television Series, Student Centered Learning, for Nashville Public Television. Since 1983, Brown directed the writing program at Hume-Fogg Academic High School in Nashville. He retired from Hume-Fogg in May, 2003 and accepted a part-time lecturer’s position at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. In 1995, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts named him Distinguished Teacher in the Arts. He has been a Scholar in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a two-time recipient of Fellowships in poetry from the Tennessee Arts Commission. In 2011, the Tennessee Writers Alliance awarded Brown: Writer of the Year.