by William John Notter
Southern Illinois University Press, 2009
eISBN: 978-0-8093-8660-4 | Paper: 978-0-8093-2927-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3614.O79H65 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6


William Notter’s stunning collection Holding Everything Down explores the everyday struggles, triumphs, and desires of rural Americans. With disarming humor and remarkable honesty, Notter delves into the most personal longings of those who inhabit America’s countrysides: places bound by secrets and ghosts, where joy is discovered in the most unlikely of locations, and even the land itself has a story to tell. These highly accessible poems traverse the world of weekend rodeos, lonely highways, and windswept battlefields; they follow the twin paths of addiction and obsession, and the trials of newfound sobriety. Connections are forged beneath weathered ceilings, and love can be found over a plate of barbecue. Also explored are the depths of humanity’s relationship with nature and freedom, be it the smell of freshly threshed wheat, the purple thunderheads of an approaching storm, or a sunset viewed from Mississippi’s highest peak.

From the muddy deltas of the deep South to the crags of the Big Horn Mountains, Notter’s deeply candid portraits transcend stereotypes to expose an often unseen side of Americana. Hairdresser or handyman, rodeo rider or rancher’s wife, each voice ultimately echoes with the most human of experiences, unveiling the common threads that bind us to our world and to each other.

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