MUSIC: Little Gifts That Just Happen

Nanci Griffith was never a celebrity, but her wonderfully poetic new album may change all that

Some people think poetry is dead, but it's not; it's just underground, disguised as songwriting. Once, a reclusive Emily Dickinson could spin out her feathery verses and send them next door to her sister-in-law, content to preserve her New England obscurity. Today a would-be Dickinson is more likely to grab a guitar, put together a backup band and hit the road. That was precisely the path taken by Nanci Griffith, a wide-eyed Texas waif who may just be one of America's best poets -- and for sure is one of its best songwriters.

Her recordings are populated by such stylistically disparate...

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