Selected by Marie Howe from over one thousand submissions,Nine Acresis the winner of theAmerican Poetry Review/APR Honickman First Book Prize. Taking their titles from chapters of a 1930s small-scale farming handbook, the fifty-two poems in this cycle create a handbook for living and explore sustainability on many levelson the land, in the family, and in the spirit.
As Marie Howe writes in her introduction to the book, "Nathanial Perry has collected poems into this book as one plants a field, as an act of husbandry: each line a furrow where seeds flourish or fail. Husbandryto create a dwelling place and to care for itthese are the ancient acts."
"Soil Surface Management"
I spent the afternoon breaking
ground. The tiller bucked and groaned
at the job, but with each pass I saw
a perfect blankness, like I'd been loaned
a second life in which to grow
a third. The sun sat on its porch
and smiled. I wondered if the dirt
would be enough, a kind of torch
to set inside our lives to say,
we'll grow our food like this, our plans
will look like this like soil squared
and measured into beds by a man
sweating through his shirt with effort.
In dirt is one life we can choose
to make. I spent the afternoon
breaking what I knew we'd use.
Nathaniel Perry lives with his family in rural southside Virginia. He is the editor of theHampden-Sydney Poetry Reviewand teaches at Hampden-Sydney College.