The illiterate child of freed slaves, William Edmondson (1874–1951) experienced religious visions from the age of 13 or 14. At 57 he began carving limestone; he became, in 1937, the first African-American to have a solo show at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Four of Spires' poems are taken verbatim from interviews with the artist, but elsewhere the poet mimics Edmondson's homespun language to remarkable effect, and creates narrative voices for Edmondson's sculpted characters, photos of which are shown facing the poems. Here are Edmondson's own words about stonecutting:"I was out in the driveway with some old pieces of stone when I heard a voice telling me to pick up my tools and start to work on a tombstone. I looked up in the sky and right there in the noon daylight He hung a tombstone out for me to make...I knowed it was God telling me what to do. God was telling me to cut figures. First He told me to make tombstones. Then He told me to cut the figures. He gave me them two things..."