The Land of the Dead Is Open for Business (Stahlecker Selections) (Paperback)
On Our Shelves Now
The Land of the Dead Is Open for Business is an extended elegy for Jacob Strautmann’s home state of West Virginia and its generations of inhabitants sold out by the false promise of the American Dream. Throughout the book, voices rise up from the page to describe a landscape eroded and plundered by runaway capitalism—its mountain tops leveled by the extractive industries, its waters polluted by runoff from mines—and the fallout from that waste. Those who remain are consigned to life in a ravaged land denuded of nature where birds die and “Sheep / birth limp two-headed things and some / that speak like men if they speak at all.”
About the Author
Raised in Marshall County, WV, Jacob Strautmann is a recipient of the Massachusetts Poetry Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. His poems have appeared in the Boston Globe, Agni Magazine, Salamander Magazine, Southern Humanities Review, Blackbird, and others. He is the Department Manager of Economics at Boston University, where he also teaches playwriting. He lives in Belmont, MA with his partner Valerie Duff and their two children.
“In addition to extracting coal from the Appalachian region, the coal industry has also removed human lives, history, culture, local economy, and Nature itself. It is almost impossible to realize some people struggle to survive where they come from, because where they come from is being destroyed. The poems in this fine collection are formally deft and play along to mountain music. But the truth is not blunted by the art; the art only makes the truth more bitter.”
“These poems are ringing elegies for lost American time and space—time to oneself, space to call one’s own. Jacob Strautmann’s lines are bruised and deepened by infinite stuff, by debris, detritus, melodies, memories. Past and present twist together, foreground and background shift and slip; the poet wanders open-hearted through this charred and littered landscape, the one moving thing, still casting seeds, upturning hope, unearthing beauty.”