In Half/Mask, Roger Mitchell goes in search of the magic that remains when the world is stripped down to “an inhospitable beauty.” Many of these starkly lyrical poems explore the human and natural communities found on tundra and borrow freely from the great narrative and sculptural traditions of the Inuit and other rugged people who have learned to live intensely under challenging conditions. Whether in the High Arctic or in different places “where human life . . . has a loose fit,” Mitchell discovers a land rich in imagery and metaphor for describing experience at a fundamental level, out at the edge of what we can know: “Alone and far away, remote, a step / or two beyond human, real being.” An effort to understand and sympathetically inhabit the earth drives these poems, even in the barren isolation of their settings, and gives to Half/Mask its emotional resonance.
About the author
Roger Mitchell is the author of ten books of poetry, including Delicate Bait, the winner of the 2002 Akron Poetry Prize, and Half/Mask. He has won the Midland Prize in poetry and the Akron Poetry Prize, plus fellowships from the NEA, Lilly Foundation, Indiana Arts Commission, and New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in way upstate New York with his wife, the fiction writer, Dorian Gossy.