With reverence and exasperation and good humor, the poems in William Greenway’s book, How the Dead Bury the Dead, evoke the pain of loss and celebrate the ways we transform our losses into strength. Dislocated from his native Georgia to the rust belt of the Midwest, haunted by the ghost of his father, by memories of his mother, and by dreams of his own mortality, Greenway turns his warm wit on every problem that life has set for him, a stand-up Hamlet with a soft Southern accent and a feel for the power and pathos in Richard Wilbur’s line, “I dreamt the past was never past redeeming.” In poems that bring back, without nostalgia, the people and places of his early years, he reconciles the ache of absence with deep, persistent richness of this world, finding in the practices of the Shona, an African tribe, an artistic and philosophic model for his own approach to life.
The book’s organization testifies to Greenway’s care, allowing his individual poems to grow into larger shapes and visions. . . . It is Greenway’s breakthrough.
—Eclectic Literary Forum
William Greenway is a poet because what he writes lingers, repeats itself in the mind long after the reader has finished reading, prompts questions, hints at answers, creates something lastingly beautiful.
—Juilene McKnight, Vindicator