Irene McKinney's work of three decades is represented here. Her language is direct, vernacular, forceful, and unmistakeable. These poems are directed to a listener, not overheard, in a tone and with a stance of honest intimacy. These poems occur in the rhythm of speech, not of written discourse. From the beginning, McKinney has been aware of the modulations of the spoken voice, and much of the power of these poems derives from that awareness. Her themes are the ancient ones: connections with the land, with animals, with other people, with loss, with joy.
Her work should be seen in the context of such poets as Denise Levertov, Wislawa Symborska, or Ruth Stone, who worked in a tradition of independant spirit powered by clarity, compassion, and a willingness to take unpopular stances. These poems are rooted in a consciousness that draws on a wide range of poetic and spirtual traditions, but there is a remarkable consistence of concerns over these three decades.