"Milledgeville, Georgia, exists for most readers through the lens of one writer, a brilliant and famous white woman who lies in the cemetery's high ground, safely above the floodwaters. But lower down lie the buried citizens of another, less seen community. Sean Hill's songs are native to his town. Formally various, richly textured, they voice unwritten history with an acute sense of the deep sound of a place, the stream of blood and talk that courses through this writer's living hands."
—Mark Doty, author of Fire to Fire: New & Selected Poems
"Sean Hill has given us a deeply moving fictive exploration—an excavation!—of the world that shaped him. Silas Wright is his personal entryway to the historical past and these fully realized lyrics are the forms of his poetic truth."
—Edward Hirsch, author of Poet's Choice
Sean Hill's debut collection, imaginative in the characters it invents and in the formal literary traditions it juxtaposes, is nevertheless firmly rooted in Hill's hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia, which he transforms into a poetic landscape that can accommodate the scope of his vision of collective and personal history. The poems create a call and response across six generations of family of the fictional Silas Wright, a black man born in 1907. As Hill takes on the voices and experiences of diverse characters in or connected to the Wright family, these individual glimpses add up to an intimate portrait of Milledgeville's black community across two centuries as it responds to stirring events both public and private.
From a slave woman's scratchy hay-stuffed mattress to a black insurance agent's sinister patter, from sweet honey to the searing heat of brickyard kilns, the poems make vivid the sensuous details of quotidian lives punctuated by love and violence. From pantoum to haiku, from high-toned lyricism to low-down blues, Hill uses language in all its many incarnations to speak deeply about both southern identity and African American community.