My full-length poetry collection, Urbilly, which won the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, is available for purchase here.
Urbilly appears on the Year in Reading for 2017 at The Millions.
My lyric essay, “Mountainsickness,” which won the annual nonfiction contest at Still: The Journal, is a companion piece to Urbilly. You can read the essay here, with a lovely introduction by the contest judge Sarah Einstein.
Urbilly? Think antic field guide to parts (un)known & exploited. Mountain / megacity mashups, rural / urban hullabaloo, New River / Gowanus cocktails. Backwoods & Brooklyn. Mountaintop removal & Edison bulbs, landfill & farm-to-table, Muriel Rukeyser & Big Daddy Kane, James Still & girders of steel. Think Urbilly as the anti-Hillbilly Elegy.
Read “Blast Fragments” from the book, which originally appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal.
“Urbilly is an astounding debut because Michael Dowdy understands our peril. His ability to layer so much, sometimes with humor, in such a small space creates a mountainous effect. A father’s love for his young daughter fuels a rage over planetary violence. Traces of urban and rural, spit and shame, rapacious fracking and mountaintop removal, always the personal and political—these poems are living membranes that we can see worlds through.” –Mauricio Kilwein Guevara, author of POEMA and Autobiography of So-and-so: Poems in Prose
“If ‘urbilly’ as a word is somewhat obviously constructed, Urbilly as the book-length conjunction Dowdy has crafted is surprisingly nuanced. This is writing about place that moves beyond stereotypes such as city or country, writing that is rooted but never staid. Dowdy gives us “Mountain as verb,” and we’re lucky to have such lively language carrying us between clear observations, and making its colorful mash-ups.” –Rose McLarney, author of The Always Broken Plates of Mountains and Its Day Being Gone
“How do we re-integrate a past we ran from into the emotional ecology of our present? The voice of these poems guides us into the prima materia of remembered earth and youth to work the answers out of the ground, the sounds of 80s radio, the voices of parents and grandparents. Where economics, social class, and environment are disembodied issues in the headlines, here, they are sinews. This poetry distills the gifts of a psyche shaped by a rural Virginia past, and gives us a long drink of wisdom and beauty.” –Maria Melendez Kelson, author of How Long She’ll Last in This World and Flexible Bones
“Part map, part soundtrack, part storytelling, and part asking ourselves why we’re taking this trip in the first place. With the Urbilly speaker as cartographer, Dowdy takes the reader through this space and selfhood between urban and rural, between what is cultivated and what is sacred.” –Lauren Rose Clark, review of Urbilly in Jasper Magazine
Read “The Dead Send Regrets,” the book’s ekphrastic poem on the header photo (of the Day of the Dead parade, in the Bywater, New Orleans, by Ryan Dowdy), which originally appeared in Cobalt Review. Read other sample poems from drafthorse and Kestrel.