Michael McFee received a BA in 1976 and an MA in 1978, both from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.
He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017), Shinemaster (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006), and Plain Air (University Presses of Florida, 1983). He is also the author of two essay collections, including The Napkin Manuscripts: Selected Essays and an Interview (University of Tennessee Press, 2006).
Of his work, Kathryn Stripling Byer writes, “Michael McFee’s voice gravitates toward place, its complications and cast iron realities.”
A recipient of the 2009 James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South, McFee teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017)
That Was Oasis (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2012)
Shinemaster (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006)
Earthly (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2001)
Colander (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1996)
Sad Girl Sitting on a Running Board (Gnomon Press, 1991)
Vanishing Acts (Gnomon Press, 1989)
Plain Air (University Presses of Florida, 1983)
Appointed Round (Mercer University Press, 2018)
The Napkin Manuscripts: Selected Essays and an Interview (University of Tennessee Press, 2006)
My mouth won’t ever forget her skill with a skillet, my father’s mother, cooking with her mother’s skillet. Looking deep into its heavy antique mirror, I see her wedding day: white dress and this coal-dark skillet. Heaven was bacon’s sizzle waking my ears and nose. Or was it one of her chickens slow-frying in the skillet? Her husband once took it hunting without asking: she said she’d bust his skull with that upraised skillet. Fire-born bell whose clapper was a plain dinner fork, juicy fauna and flora notes rang out from her skillet. I see early widowhood, cooked-for children gone: darkness lends its seasoning to every cast-iron skillet. She hid its teardrop handle inside her strong grip when pouring red-eye gravy from one lip of the skillet. What went into the oven as batter we two mixed came out as cornbread glory, steaming amen in a skillet. Black as her Bible, black as her once-maiden hair, black as a panther howling at midnight, this skillet. I see her funeral day, the kitchen filled with food not made by her, no flame kissing the empty skillet. I say McFee into its circle, hear her savory voice giving back the family name from her (now my) skillet.
U’s mate, O with a new root, the one capital letter which probes below the base line, here’s to the quirky beauty of its tail, that fluent tongue stuck from a wide-open mouth, that elegant half-mustache parted quickly toward the east, that antique handle we grasp to lift up the monocle of our alphabet’s monarch, that final flourish of the quill.