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Hourglass Museum [Kindle Edition]

Kelli Russell Agodon
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
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  • Length: 108 pages
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Book Description

In Kelli Russell Agodon’s third collection of poems, Hourglass Museum, the yearning to create is what moves us forward. Through car rides with Andy Warhol, temporary tattoos of Frida Kahlo, and long dinners with Joseph Cornell, we walk hand-in-hand through a paper museum where what inspires intersects with our regular lives.

Hourglass Museum offers a dazzling selection of poems inspired by artwork and artists that explores personal relationships and the struggle (emotionally, financially, and spiritually) of living a creative life. Agodon understands the importance of how art influences our lives and how we balance delicately realizing that we only have so much time to live and create. Hourglass Museum is a meditation in beauty, tenderness, and knowledge reaching far beyond most poetry that’s being written today.

Editorial Reviews


The poems in Hourglass Museum may be triggered by visual art and artists, but they read as Kelli Russell Agodon's very personal struggle with making poetry and living with the consequences--artistic, social, emotional. It's an intelligently conceived and moving collection, and the greatest pleasure of all is the line-by-line revelation of the poems, which are always lively, witty (even when they are sad), surprising, musical, addictive. Reading these poems is a joy.
~ Kathleen Flenniken, Washington State Poet Laureate 

From the Author

The poems in Hourglass Museum explore living life with an undeniable yearning to create. 
I tried to create a reckoning throughout the book, a balancing of the scales between art and life. Many of the poems in this manuscript rely on art--famous and otherwise--to explore relationships and to help interpret life and the world around us. I am interested in how art influences us and how images and interactions with art can carry us from one place to another, such as seeing a painting of a fig tree then having it bring back a memory of one's childhood home. 
In this book, I tried to created a paper museum.  The book is divided into different exhibits from portraits to a sketchbook of nudes. I allowed art from artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Joseph Cornell, Andy Warhol, and Beauford Delaney to influence my writing.  Sometimes I find myself feeling almost overwhelmed with the beauty created by others and this book reflects that as well as the vulnerability (and sometimes unbalance) we may feel while living as artists in the world.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2459 KB
  • Print Length: 108 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Two Sylvias Press (February 14, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IGUTF16
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #907,639 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tour Worth Taking February 24, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
In Hourglass Museum, Agodon chronicles and articulates the struggle artists live--How does one live an authentically creative life and be a wife/mother/wage earner? (Husband/father can be substituted.) Not readily apparent in that question are all the bigger, harder questions embedded in it:

Is being creative a luxury? Does creativity matter? What if it doesn't amount to anything? Was it worth what was sacrificed for it? Is one selfish for taking time away from other things to create? (Other MORE IMPORTANT things is what is often said/implied/felt.)

Agodon addresses these questions and more in Hourglass Museum and does so in the most deft investigations of the ways in which artists give themselves to others, and more importantly, the ways they give themselves permission (or not) to lead productive, fulfilling creative lives. These investigations are explored in poems that are a tour of delight in perception and language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book regarding living a life in art February 10, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The poetry in Hourglass Museum is worth ten times what you will pay for it. There are so many wonderful metaphors in this book I hesitate to share them with you because each is so masterfully woven into the very fabric of the book I would be quoting pages at a time. You deserve to read the book in its entirety. Hourglass Museum is the first book of poems in quite a while that makes me want to tell all my friends about it, even if they already own a copy. Kelli Russell Agodon has proven yet again how devoted she is to the art of poetry and how integral it is to her life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegantly clever April 1, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There’s much to admire about Hourglass Museum, but here’s what I loved most: Kelli Russell Agodon is just charmingly and elegantly clever with words. Hers is not the look-at-me, jokey kind of cleverness, but the kind that emerges seemingly without effort to stun you with its grace and aptness. I read these lines over and over from the poem “Drowning Girl: A Waterlogged Ars Poetica” to savor their sound and substance.

There’s no dessert in the picnic basket/so I swallow time. My mouth full/of hands and numbers. I ask for seconds.

Agodon manages to achieve a playfulness while pulling you under to the poem’s depths. Throughout the book, she mixes melancholy with cheekiness, longing with mock (and, sometimes, real) rebellion.

The book opens with an epigraph by Anais Nin: Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. There are in these poems, many references to escape. There is mention of exits and entrances, doorways and windows and where they might lead: museums, an unlocked cage, a church, or in “Death of a Housewife, Oil on Linen” an entirely new existence: …what she wanted/was to tango with another or a key/to unlock the front door and waltz/herself into another life.

Agodon also considers how our veneration for our heroes can both inspire and shrink us. In “Frida Kahlo Tattoo,” she writes: I wear a temporary tattoo/of Frida Kahlo believing/I can change the world/and if not the world/then a lightbulb, the channel…

Many of the poems are inspired by paintings, and the reader can almost imagine the poems themselves framed and hanging in a museum. The book has four parts, each dealing with an aspect of work in an exhibition, rendering in words the quirky, keen depths of the poet’s vision. In her prologue poem, Agodon invites the reader to …look up and see the madness/organized in the stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In Hourglass Museum, Kelli Russell Agodon has a trifecta! First as a book, second for the individual poems and finally for the many stand alone gems that dot the landscape of this work.

Agodon tackles many common poetry themes with uncommon grandeur, making this
book thoroughly fresh. Exploring the intersections of life and art, Hourglass Museum offers a smart look at the creative lifestyle. It’s a personal and honestly expressed journey that is real; complete with life’s rough edges, questions and longing. The text is replete with impressive metaphors.

Many of the poems are of ekphrastic nature which offers great artistic latitude and is certainly a factor in what makes this poetry so fresh and enjoyable.

One of my favorite poems is Self Portrait with Reader. Agodon writes:

We must live with our hearts
in our hands— like Mary.

We must hold the blood-
red heart and not be disappointed
when others look away.

This is what we do with art… This is what Agodon had done with these poems. I encourage you to not look away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and honest. February 25, 2014
A line from La Magie Noire intrigues and inspires me-
"Imagination: taking madness and giving it a loving home"
It allows me to believe that we can bring imagination and madness into our living rooms, writing studios, kitchens, school buses, class trips, hospitals. Kelli does this with a skillful heart. Her brave, poignant foray into the museum of her life so far is tempered by her searching questions about how she fits in. She writes with integrity about what it takes to be a poet and housewife, mother, sister, daughter, trying to make sense of the need to create, to be herself, in a world that doesn't revere the process.
Her poems are intense, witty and at times brilliant.
They are also vulnerable and aware. There is a little madness. The book is refreshingly honest.

Worth every minute, every hour, reading.
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More About the Author

Kelli Russell Agodon is a prize-winning poet, writer, and editor from the Northwest.

Her most recent books are The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice, which she coauthored with poet Martha Silano, and Hourglass Museum, her third collection of poems from White Pine Press.

Kelli is also the author of Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room (winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize) was chosen by ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year in Poetry and was a Finalist in the Washington State Book of the Year Awards, Small Knots (2004), Geography, winner of the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award, and edited Fire On Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry with Annette Spaulding-Convy.

Kelli was born and raised in Seattle and educated at the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University's Rainier Writing Workshop where she received her MFA in creative writing.

She was the editor of the literary journal, Crab Creek Review for the last six years and is the co-founder of Two Sylvias Press. Currently, she lives in the Northwest with her family, where she is an avid mountain biker, paddleboarder, and hiker.

Visit her webpage at: or stay in touch with her on Facebook:


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