A singular, genre-defying treatise from one of America’s most innovative political poets, Coal Mountain Elementary remixes verbatim testimony from the surviving Sago, West Virginia miners and rescue teams, the American Coal Foundation’s curriculum for schoolchildren, newspaper accounts of mining disasters in China, and full-color photographs of Chinese miners by renowned photojournalist Ian Teh.
“A stunning collage . . . Nowak’s willingness to submerge his own voice beneath these other accounts, privileging other voices — those of survivors, widows, journalists — above his own. He is a legislator whose job is allowing others to be heard. “New York Times Sunday Book Review
“Mark Nowak is restoring the perspective of working class Americans to contemporary American poetry.” —Buffalo News
“Coal Mountain Elementary is an imaginative and shocking reminder of what it means, in the most human and poignant terms, to be a miner, whether in this country or in China, or for that matter anywhere in the industrial world. It is also a tribute to miners and working people everywhere. It manages, in photos and in words, to portray an entire culture. And it is a stunning educational tool.” —Howard Zinn