The History of Tree Roots by Phil Howerton

The History of Tree Roots


Phillip Howerton


 This work is a collection of poetry set in the Ozarks by one of the finest Missouri poets writing today.  Many of the poems have been published before in various literary journals.  Many are new in this volume.  See what the author and some critics say about the collection below:


From the back cover: Although these poems are informed by a lifetime of living in the Ozarks, readers will not find the over-wrought sentimentality, tired stereotypes, or visions of an indestructible, primeval wilderness that have too often colored writing set in this region. Instead, these poems recognize the attributes and faults of the past and present, challenge the clichéd representations of place, and engage the experiences of small and independent farmers—a group largely ignored in depictions of the region. These poems also move beyond the Ozarks by addressing a number of universal concerns, such as urban sprawl, the devaluation of manual labor, a diminished sense of place, the loss of small communities, and the fragility of the natural environment.


“The poems of Phil Howerton are quiet, witty, and sly, their images drawn from the thin soil but rich cultural substance of the poet’s native Ozarks.  Time and again these poems challenge readers to see Ozarkers, particularly elderly Ozarkers, as something other than flat, cardboard clichés.  Like fellow rural poet Ted Kooser, Howerton possesses a distinctive gift for metaphor, and his comparisons lure us into epiphanies that increase our appreciation of personal dignity, humility, and a thoughtful regard for the natural world.  His is a welcome voice in the chorus of contemporary American poetry.”

---- Craig Albin, Editor, Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies

“Howerton’s poems are important works of cultural preservation, yet their strength comes from their capacity to speak to experiences that move us beyond region toward the universal.”

---- Jeffery Hotz, Editor, EAPSU Online: A Journal of Critical and Creative Work