Publication Date:  October 15, 2019
Paperback, 72 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-58-8
Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution
David Salner's writing appears in Threepenny
, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner,Salmagundi,  
North American Review, Ploughshares, and many
other magazines. His previous poetry collections are
John Henry’s Partner Speaks  (2008), Working Here
(2010), and
Blue Morning Light (2016).

He has worked all over the U.S. as an iron ore miner,  
steel-worker, machinist, bus driver, cab driver,
garment laborer, and longshoreman. He now works
as a librarian.

Salner was honored with grants from the Puffin
Foundation, the Dr. Henry P. and Page Laughlin
Fund, and two from the Maryland State Arts Council.
He won the 2016 Lascaux Prize for Poetry and the
Oboh Prize, judged by Cecilia Wolloch. He has
received seven Pushcart Prize nominations and on
three separate occasions Garrison Keillor read
Salner’s work on the NPR show, Writer’s Almanac.
Stillness, especially in poetry, is often a virtue, evoking peace, rest, the quiet of nature;
but in this new collection of poetry from David Salner, stillness is an aftermath, a
consequence of ending and absence.  As in the title poem, surveying a community
after the closing of the mine that gave it life and livelihood:

    The metal lungs never stopped breathing, until
    a stillness entered the valley, of weeds and rust,
    of underground voices doggedly calling.

There are many species of stillness and loss in these poems, beginning with the first
section, “A Dream of Quitting Time,” which offers an eloquent and all too rare
account of working class life, its trials but also its unexpected moments of beauty.  
Salner’s description of a furnace “Burning Magnesium” is remarkable for its lyricism,
portraying the metal of the title as a living thing that suffers wounds, as “strawberry
blisters riddled the sheen.”  There is yet dignity in labor, but it is permeated by the
nagging knowledge that nothing lasts.  It has been a long time since David Ignatow
enjoined us to “Get the gasworks in a poem” as a means to get at the heart of America,
but it has never been truer, and rarely accomplished as surely as Salner does it here.

Elsewhere he deals with stillness of a different order, reflecting on the deep stillness of
time in the second section, “The Road to Philippi,” which takes its title from a poem
describing a Civil War battlefield long after the guns, and those who fired them, have
fallen silent.  These poems range over historical and literary themes and figures, the
past sometimes colliding with the present (see “Walt Whitman at Abu Ghraib”),
ending with a poignant scene of Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil at the site of the
Charleston slave market, “rooted in time / in this harbor of souls.”

The final section, “A Summer Rain,” returns us to the present and often to the
personal, particularly in several poems where Salner writes of family history, where
the remnants of his Hungarian grandfather’s life “rusted in various sheds” that he and
his si
ster were told to avoid, and his grandmother peers into the darkness of an Ohio
night, a “mystery she entered when she left / Hungary so long ago.”  He wishes to
know more of her life, of why she left:  “A story like that / I could build a lifetime
upon.”  But this history, too, is swallowed by silence.  By stillness.

In the closing poem, “Summer Rain,” we arrive at last to a pastoral stillness, a wet
world after three days of rain:

    Here with you, I still feel like that boy
    who ran through fields where creek water rolled,
    through a soaking rain that was good for the world
    and still blesses his bones.

It is an unabashed and unapologetic love poem.  And in that love, in the memory of
what has passed, in that stillness, it blesses us like the rain.

Praise for David Salner & The Stillness of Certain Valleys

David Salner's poems are full of fresh and evocative images — "a plume of exhaust
turns pink in the crossing lights" as we sit with him for the night train. Goya paints
"black oil chaos from which / eyes glinted like knives." Whatever world the poem
creates, Salner invites his readers in with his exact language and surprising metaphor.
The music of these poems is often subtly beautiful, using assonance and alliteration to
tie together stanzas and ideas. Salner's work bears reading over and over as we
discover how many layers these seemingly simple worlds have.

                     Anne Colwell, Poetry Editor of the
Delmarva Review

Salner's lyrical poems give us the physical world, its roughness and beauty, and the life
it sustains—the miner, the immigrant grandmother,
The Stillness of Certain Valleys
and they bring us closer to ourselves and who we were in the rapidly fading 20th
century. His work is a treasure for us of this lesser century.

                      Greg McBride, Editor,
Innisfree Poetry Journal
The Stillness

Poetry by
David Salner
He has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  He is currently finishing work on
a novel set in the 1920s about a fugitive from Montana vigilantes who works on the
great Holland Tunnel project and finds shelter among the poor Jews of the Lower
East Side.

Salner enjoys book signings and readings. He lives in Millsboro, Delaware with his
wife, Barbara Greenway.

His website is: and his Facebook page is https://www.