Poems that discover enduring pleasures in the details of our everyday lives.
Michael McFee’s twelfth collection of poetry explores challenging subjects—the realities of aging, the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the disappearance of Appalachian culture—in poems that discover enduring pleasures in the details of our everyday lives. It also includes vivid, lively, and imaginative responses to quirky words, a jazz standard, family members, celebrities, and several paintings. As one reader has said, “In his poems filled with quotidian experience, the objects of the material world shimmer with consequence: they are alight with attention—McFee’s, and through his art, ours. He is one of our best poets.”
About the Author
A native of Asheville, North Carolina, and resident of Durham, Michael McFee is the Doris Betts Term Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he teaches in the Creative Writing Program. He is the author or editor of sixteen previous books, most recently We Were Once Here and Appointed Rounds: Essays.
'We’re dying, all of us, and it does us no good to get melancholy about it. In A Long Time to Be Gone, Michael McFee examines aging and mortality—“oblivion’s headwaters”—with the same clear-eyed exactness that has made him our greatest living Appalachian poet. Along the way, he chronicles the sweetness that makes a life worth living: Duke Ellington tunes, heirloom cultivars, sliding down a banister. In McFee’s careful hands, even a potbelly, a dog lapping at a puddle, a forged Mickey Mantle autograph, or a long-held grudge can become a kind of celebration, a kind of reverie. A Long Time to Be Gone is a welcome reminder that wonder resides in the particulars and that as our bodies age, as we preoccupy ourselves with each creak and ache, we become more alive to ourselves." — Ross White
“The great pleasure to be found in Michael McFee’s A Long Time to Be Gone springs from the deep humanism of a man alert to the world around him, to its beauty and oddity and humor. Whether contemplating the punctuation mark called the virgule, the bell of a manual typewriter, Scrabble tiles drawn at random that spell C-O-V-I-D, or his future ashes being scattered in his beloved North Carolina, McFee is always a master craftsman, in full command of a range of formal approaches and sonic nuances. A Long Time to Be Gone will be a long time enjoyed by any reader lucky enough to nab it.” — Beth Ann Fennelly