The Sunshine Mine Disaster

The University of Idaho Press, 1995

The Sunshine Mine Disaster is a book of poetry and nonfiction about the 1972 mining disaster in Kellogg, Idaho, the worst catastrophe in the state’s history. I would describe my effort in Sunshine as a form of “witness” poetry, a poetry obviously grounded in history and politics, but I would also say that the construction of the book belies any notion that a history, whether official or personal, is an integrated “thing” to be apprehended whole. On this matter, I have clearly borrowed a Foucaultian skepticism about the integrity of confession and witnessing, or in other terms, a Didionian suspicion about the scaffolding and certainty of memory. And to confound these post-structuralist descriptions of my work and aims, I hold a steadfast faith in the common exchange for poetry: my most meaningful moment as a poet was my reading at an annual memorial service for the disaster in Kellogg, Idaho. In that exchange, I discovered what Muriel Rukeyser meant by “the Life of Poetry.”

To get a sense of the book, you can read its preface, or better, you can read its final section. For critical assessments of The Sunshine Mine Disaster, you may want to view Brendan Galvin’s review of the book that appeared in Choice magazine or Kevin Walzer’s review that is on the ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum’s website.

You can order the book directly from the University of Idaho at 1-800-UIPRESS; if you prefer, you can order it electronically via Amazon Books.

The views and opinions expressed in this page and throughout my website are those of the page author and in no way represent those of Florida Gulf Coast University, the State University System of Florida, or the Florida Board of Regents.

Return to Poetry Page
Last Modified 7 December 1998