Quiet Poetry by Karen Kelsay
Amytis Leaves her Garden
wins the AML award:
For: Amytis Leaves Her Garden
In choosing Amytis Leaves Her Garden, my sense of being a poet, who loves the catching a glimpse of the world through eyes that are not my own. I don’t wish I had written Amytis Leaves Her Garden, I am instead in awe of how Karen Kelsay has been able to catch a wisp of time or place, and transport me there, with clarity and imagination.
Clearly this is a collection of poetry that bears the hallmarks of Mormon life and the ideals of Mormonism’s gender ideas. “A Proper Man” (pg 23) is one of the poems that at first left my feminist self bristling, as did several other poems that seemed to be focused on only the sunny side of life. Then “Summer in Italy” (pg 46) is the reminder that searching for beauty, comfort, the sublime, in the midst of each sorrow, trial and the unexpected *is* what and who Mormons are.
As with the review of any poetry books, there are few poems that didn’t connect, and yet even in those, as a reader I felt there was still a beauty in trying to see how all the other poems inform that disconnect. In the end, personally not having a place to walk into a poem, does not take away from the majority who made me laugh, weep or smile,
While the subject varies from poem to poem, each sheds beauty on sweet moments that are here, and would be gone, if not for Kelsay’s brilliant poetic snapshots.
Read what other editors say about Karen's books:
Karen Kelsay's Lavender Song is a delectable collection of perfect quatrains, tercets, and the occasional sonnet—a poetic gathering that the Elizabethans would have called “a garland of Delights.” Kelsay's subject matter runs the gamut from nature and music and the season to English homes and Irish fairies, as well as from Suzanne and the Elders to Anne Bradstreet. In a literary scene where oversubstituted feet make too many allegedly formal poems unrecognizable, Karen Kelsay's limpid iambic pentameters are a welcome respite and a joy to peruse.
Editor of TRINACRIA
Reading these poems is like handling some lovely hand-made, carefully-wrought artefact from an age when craftsmanship and elegance still remained sovereign virtues. Karen Kelsay eschews cheap gimcrack-trendy modernisms and postmodernisms, and instead evokes a more organically traditional aesthetic and praxis. It is refreshing to read poetry that, far from urgently straining for effect and ersatz novelty, quietly and touchingly speaks to more durable human virtues. Yet within this exquisitely traditional poetic vision, Ms. Kelsay addresses concerns that are as relevant today as they ever were, and she does this from her own unique perspective, and in her own authentic voice. This is poetry that enriches the reader: and thank goodness such poetry is still being written!
Paul Christian Stevens, Editor of The Chimaera Literary Miscellany and The Flea Broadsheets
Karen Kelsay is a courageous poet: courageous to imbue her poetry with love, compassion, empathy and spirituality at a time when such things are out of favor in literary circles. For those of us who still believe that art should be moving, her poetry is like a breath of fresh, lavender-scented air.
These poems rehearse their subject matter with charming magic of language, sorcery of phrase, the spell of measured, proper words. It is music, chant, and liturgy, the commonplace ensorcelled.