Kettle Bottom


Diane Gilliam Fisher shows a mastery of language in this collection. One of the strongest literary devices she employs in her poems is an acute sense of dialect and voice, which not only matches time and place (early 1920s in West Virginia), but also character. Her collection is crafted using persona poems. Each is written specifically from one individual's or character's perspective, although the individual who is a particular poem's narrator varies significantly throughout the collection. This unique ability to go outside herself to capture the personalities and viewpoints of others is shown immediately in Diane Gilliam Fisher's opening poem of Kettle Bottom:

Explosion at Winco No. 9

Delsey Salyer knowed Tom Junior by his toes,

which his steel-toed boots had kept the fire off of.

Betty Rose seen a piece of Willy's ear, the little

notched part where a hound had bit him

when he was a young'un, playing at eating its food.

It is true that it is the men that goes in, but it is us

that carries the mine inside. It is us that listens

to what all they are scared of and takes

the weight of it from them, like handing off

a sack of meal. Us that learns by heart

birthmarks, scars, bends of fingers,

how the teeth set crooked or straight.

Us that picks up the pieces.

I didn't have

nothing to patch with but my old blue dress,

and Ted didn't want flowered goods

on his shirt. I told him, It's just under your arm,

Ted, it ain't going to show.

They brung out bodies,

you couldn't tell. I seen a piece of my old blue dress

on one of them bodies, blacked with smoke,

but I could tell it was my patch, up under the arm.

When the man writing in the big black book

come around asking about identifying marks,

I said, blue dress. I told him, Maude Stanley, 23.[4]

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