“If Carroll Kearley relied on mere reminiscence to propel the reader from poem to poem in The Plain Above the River, the collection might devolve to “fragments of memory keep[ing] family together”. Instead, he evokes a sensuality and sensibility rapidly disappearing from the American cultural landscape. No matter how or where your personal history has been constructed, these simultaneously simple and complex poems will remind you of sensations you may have forgotten: the fragrance of “Bing cherries [with their] deep-red-to-black flesh”, a song “signaling the falling away”. Read this book slowly. Savor it.”
—Lynne Thompson, author of Beg No Pardon (Perugia Press)
““I wish my river’s name/had syllables like Chattahouchee/instead of one-strike Snake/for that would be truer/to the syncopated beats/sounding freer and freer in my ears,” writes Carroll Kearley in The Plain Above the River. Kearley explores the currents of his life—and ours—in these place-infused lines. We are rooted and uprooted by the “snow-born, spring-born” memories of family, burnt umber fields, jitterbug rapids and graveled roads that he evokes with love and attention. Rest awhile in the clapboard house of these thoughtful poems.”
—Candace Pearson, author of Hour of Unfolding, 2010
Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry
“Carroll Kearley”s collection of poems, The Plain Above the River, is about people and a place before Kearley”s people were, the curving Snake River and the Snake River plain. Rimrock reddening above the exclamation points of leaping salmon, the bones of small, prehistoric horses, Indian villages reaping river”s gift. And later farmers close to a desert, spreading water on dry fields with a motion of shovels the author still feels in his arms, a father learning this hard place, small boys daring the river though they couldn”t swim, graves by the river, wars and those who didn't return from wars, boys peeing out a window on a farm house roof, good land gambled away, lives drowned in alcohol. This collection of poems is memoir and celebration. The work is both plain as oatmeal and subtle as the flight of birds. Somewhere Wallace Stegner says that Europeans had to learn a whole new pallet to appreciate the American West. Kearley has his colors right Look at them.”
—Bruce Williams, author of The Mojave Road and Other Journeys
In 1930 Carroll Kearley was born in a farmhouse his maternal grandfather built one mile from Buhl, Idaho, a town twenty-four years older than he. Carroll grew up on two small farms, one on each side of the river. He earned a Ph.D. in philosophy and became a college professor. After retirement at age sixty-five, he started the serious venture of writing poetry. Tebot Bach has published two books of his poems: Deity-Alphabets and The Armenian Watchmaker.