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What Matters: Poems Hardcover – September 16, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

We're all survivors of one thing or another, and these meticulously crafted poems by Adele Kenny tell us that we're not alone. Intimate rather than private, the poems in What Matters are characterized by startling imagery, rich metaphor, and a compelling sense of immediacy. The book begins with meditations on the past and what has been lost (as Shakespeare wrote, "...what's past is prologue"). Section two moves through the diagnosis and treatment of a life-threatening illness, and section three demonstrates how loss, grief, and illness can teach us how to live. Intensely lyrical and sometimes edgy, these poems are about the human spirit's transcendent nature - the immanent "something more."  

From the Back Cover

These poems are eloquent, candid, straightforward and genuine. (Robert Pinsky, U.S. Poet Laureate 1997-2000)

In Adele Kenny's finely wrought meditations on grief and loss, she never forgets that she's a maker of poems; in other words, that the poem in its entirety is more important than any one of its utterances, phrasings, or laments. 
What Mattersstraddles two of the exigencies of the human condition: diminishment and endurance. It abounds with poems that skillfully earn their sentiments. (Stephen Dunn, Pulitzer Prize in Poetry)

These are poems that come to (poetic) grips with the issues of grief, fear, and death ... focused in a new and strong way. (Gerald Stern, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, National Book Award Recipient)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Welcome Rain Publishers (September 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566490790
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566490795
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,350,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adele Kenny is the author of twenty-three books (poetry & nonfiction). Her poems, reviews, and articles have been published worldwide, and her poems have appeared in books and anthologies published by Crown, Tuttle, Shambhala, and McGraw-Hill.

She is the recipient of various awards, including two poetry fellowships from the NJ State Arts Council, first place Merit Book and Henderson Awards, a Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and a Writer's Digest Poetry Award. In 2011, she was honored with a Women of Excellence Award from the Union County Commission on the Status of Women for her personal achievements and volunteer work in the arts and humanities. One of her poems appeared on the marquee of the Rialto West Theater in NYC as part of the 42nd Street Art Project, and her book Staffordshire Animals has been cited by Home and Garden Television (Episode COL-713). Her most recent poetry collection, What Matters, received the 2012 International Book Award for Poetry, and she was awarded the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award by Kean University.

A former professor of creative writing in the College of New Rochelle's Graduate School, she is founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series and poetry editor of Tiferet Journal. Active in readings and in private and agency-sponsored workshops, she has read in the US, England, Ireland, and France, and has been a featured reader at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.

Visit Adele's Website: www.adelekenny.com

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Studdard on September 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excerpt from my review in the fall issue of Journal of New Jersey Poets: Technically and in terms of craft, What Matters is a triumphant collection, matching a transcendent poetic sensibility with the small and large victories of the human spirit--its fears, its joys, its ability to persevere. As Stephen Dunn states, "In Adele Kenny's finely wrought meditations on grief and loss, she never forgets that she's a maker of poems; in other words, that the poem in its entirety is more important than any one of its utterances, phrasings, or laments." I would add to this that Kenny also never loses sight of the even larger whole: the poems together as a collection. Because of the careful attention to the smallest of details and the largest of structures, What Matters achieves the kind of overall cohesion that translates into complete, enthralled engagement at every level for the reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read What Matters in one sitting - even though I had other "to do" things calling me. It is a beautiful and engaging read. Its prompt is a very human, and personal, reaction to illness. But the language raises the poems to a higher, broader level. There is mystery in the poems, sorrow, and a natural questioning of how to move on after grief. What Matters reminds us of our shared humanity, expressed in a true poet's most expert writings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jesse L. Maghan on October 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WHAT MATTERS
Poems by Adele Kenny
Welcome Rain Publishers

ISBN-13: 987-1566490795 - 2011

Poet Adele Kenny has aligned this selection of her poems into a sequential frame of the plateaus, valleys, and mountains of life, inviting us to wander freely among these terrains and even hang-out in a chosen field of metaphors and memories that abound in this superlative little book. And has incisively placed fear into an idiomatic pocket of 'it is what it is' and acknowledges fear's freedom to show up anywhere it wants but, as a prelude to its schizoid self of dread, worry, and night fright, she also reminds us that fear includes veneration, awe, regret and care.

You can be assured dear reader that the greatest reward in owning this book is in experiencing the 'process' of memory suddenly taking prominence over the actual memory itself, thus releasing an array of unawares allowing old wounds to step forward as the core subtext of her poems. And it is in this concealed mix that we discover the magic adroitly hidden within the fabric of her poems echoing 'What Matters' over and over again.

The thickly woven emotional truths of Adele's stark and poignant poetry frightens pick-pockets and all the forked tongues that reside in perpetuity. It empathizes with those long abandoned farm houses grieving for their Halcyon Days (pre-plastic toys) and their cherished little library now defiled with a grinning graffiti of disdain for the good, truth, and beauty of another day. Yes, it has been said "there were no good old days" Forget it. Adele Kenny speaks to us solely in the expertise of her 'first language' -- the language of the past. Prof. J. Maghan, Chester, CT - October 01, 2011:10PM
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Madeline on December 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Kenny's poems are rooted in memories, but lifted into sharp imagery and intimations of mystic awareness. They are concerned with what some consider "ordinary" life, but Kenny's work enlightens the small moments. Many of the poems are about death and loss, some concern the poet's frightening struggle with cancer and her brave recovery. But there is much more. The work is serious and witty, full of passion as well as determination, often lovely; it reveals sorrow honestly, but conveys the paradox of grief allowing for joy. The worlds of nature appears in imagery from the back yards of childhood, and trees, rivers and stars, flying moths and the constant moon--- all in surprising,intimate turns of the lines. The forms are creative but careful, with admirable uses of language and much music. The poet accepts the unknown and the ominous, yet sustains a sort of mystic faith. The collection is a tribute to the small details of daily life; and all along, somehow, it surprises with celebration.
In speaking of the dead, in assuming they remember and dream and feel hunger, the poet says that the dead "...have something to tell us:/ what matters is the quiet beak of a lark in the seed..." WHAT MATTERS is a remarkable book of honesty and wonder.

reviewed by Madeline Tiger
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I finished my first read of Adele Kenny's poetry book "What Matters" I was struck with a surprised feeling of recognition: How well its title describes this book.

In the era of fast moving Facebook connections, unending demands on our time, and economic crises du jour, Adele's poems gently force us to face what matters.

Her poem East Rahway epitomizes the first of three parts of her book: The influence of the past in our lives. Adele gently ushers the wisdom of reflection on how our past has shaped us. Not in a sentimental way but, as a compass to help us read our current maps and directions. Shakespeare, is aptly referenced on the front inside book cover "...what's past is prologue".

The second part of her book describes a journey with a life threatening illness. The language is direct, courageous and densely filled with unparalleled poetic expressiveness, as in her poem Survivor: "...how winter razes the shoals of heaven. I have felt love's thunder and moan, and had my night on the wild river."

The third part of her book in equally engaging, direct and spiritually framed language, summons the connection between losses, grief and important relationships to integrated lives of meaning. She ties together with a quiet confidence and without even a hint of an effort to persuade, how connected we all are. From her last poem What Matters: "We are what the dead remember. They have no dream of their own, but cradle us like violins, close to the throat, close to the bone." And, through this collection of her poems', Adele Kenny firmly asserts that connectedness (the essence of spirituality) is all that matters.

This is a book I will keep close to my desk to remind me of things that matter and refresh the -often forgotten - connectedness links of my life. The second copy I will place on my bedside stand.

Basil Rouskas
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