Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Fortunate Islands Paperback – May 2, 2008
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
These poems are sure-footed, engaging, broad in subject matter but grounded in the poet's wary detective-mind. I have a strong feeling for the most psychological of the poems, and those with psychological twists in the last stanza. The poems in this collection feel emotionally complete. An irresistible reading experience and revelation. Fortunate Arrival! Sandra McPherson, author of The God of Indeterminacy --Marick Press Website
In The Fortunate Islands Susan Kelly-DeWitt writes as though she has seen ghosts, and she has. She has seen the ghosts of her own life carry her from the starkness of a difficult childhood with a father whose troubles with alcohol left their deep imprint on to the woman she has become, one whose credoes about spirit, work, dedication to art have placed her in the deeper grasses / we call love. Kelly-DeWitt writes careful, studied poems where the things she invokes seem to throb with significance. Those looking for more surface in the rendering of a life need look elsewhere. There is an abundance of natural imagery hummingbirds, mountains, crows, a snail, egrets, rivers but most frequently there are flowers which acknowledge Kelly-Dewitt s lifelong passion for gardening and other thrills of the botanical life. Most of the scenes are quiet ones ripe for contemplation. Domestic scenes proliferate throughout the book and offer their blossoms of truth, sometimes beauty, sometimes something a little more brutal. The Credoes section of the book provides many poems that travel through Kelly-DeWitt s country of belief. The two greatest of these are belief in wonder, the puzzling out of a life, and the belief in love as the ultimate redemption. Arguably these two beliefs could be the cornerstones of spirituality. The puzzlement and wonder is never drawn out so capable as it is in the opening poem Question Mark Cafe. Question Mark Café I ve been sipping coffee in the dark dafé which is my today-mind uncurtained: stark café. The morning started crying for no apparent reason. The dreads were circling, shark café. How marooned I feel on this island of thought. I m reviving like a half-dead verb in the word café. Name a word, any word. Soul could be the one you choose. Go ahead, it s okay, in the last remarks café. Who if I cried would hear me among the angelic orders? (Rilke. the same old question mark café.) Today I m that torn moth lipping the jack- in-the-pulpit of history, who ll fly away: ghost café. The opening questions it puts forth are then answered throughout the book. However, the main question seems to be how one can find respite in a frequently dreadful world. For Kelly-DeWitt, her prime meridian, her zero line is the great fortune she has been afforded, which has made her path leading away from a bittersweet past more bearable, a path made possible by her dedication to those less fortunate (like the prisoners who frequently appear) and to her art. The second section of the book entitled Whiskey Nights finds its thematic ground in the impact that the lives of men have made on her, particularly her father. Kelly-DeWitt paints a portrait of him as a troubled military man whose respect for order did not necessarily carry over into his private life. We see him in the throes of his military glory, ignorant of his future troubles. We see him as a fugitive from himself, engaged in all sorts of erratic behavior, including leading his family away from the house under the cover of night. In the Inventing Anna section Kelly-DeWitt examines the impact that women have had on her life. However, her mother and other family matrons must share time with other women women in a painting class, mail order brides, roller derby queens, a woman found dead on the side of the interstate. In all of these women, Kelly-DeWitt signals the femal project of invention, how it can sometimes successfully transform, how sometimes it can leave a woman with a puzzled ghost still wearing / it s unfamiliar posture, its veil of brutal perfume or as someone who will be lost to oblivion and childhood fever three years / later, but the lover striking out across the plains / to meet his luck. --The Great American Pinup
The Fortunate Islands, Susan Kelly-DeWitt s first full-length book, is glossed by a quote from Dava Sobel in reference to the Roman Egyptian mathematician, Ptolemy, who was free to lay his prime meridian, the zero-degree longitude line, wherever he liked. He chose to run it through the Fortunate Islands... With this kind of an epigraph, I had expected Kelly-DeWitt to expose her own longitudinal line in the guise of her spiritual philosophy, or the path that her life has wandered. The blurbs on the back cover of her book also presuppose issues of a tough childhood, father-issues, and a deeply impacted voice. In the latter presupposition, Susan Kelly-DeWitt s collection does not disappoint. Her language is wide-ranging and steeped in experience. The opening piece of the book suggests the cornucopious offerings to follow: Question Mark Café I ve been sipping coffee in the dark café which is my today-mind uncurtained: stark café. The morning started crying for no apparent reason. The dreads were circling, shark café. How marooned I feel on this island of thought. I m reviving like a half-dead verb in the word café. Name a word, any word. Soul could be the one you choose. Go ahead, it s okay, in the remarks café. Who if I cried would hear me among the angelic orders? (Rilke. The same old question mark café.) Today I m that torn moth lipping the jack- in-the-pulpit of history, who ll fly away: ghost café. There is so much language to unpack here. The refrain word that terminates each couplet is modified over and over suggesting the multiplicity of mind in existence, indeed, of Kelly-DeWitt s today-mind uncurtained. The third stanza also echoes the title of the book and established Kelly-DeWitt as a universal marooned speaker adrift on an island of thought. All of these foreshadowing events ground the text that follows in possibilities of un-exacted thought that stretches to the angelic orders and beyond. The jack-in-the-pulpit (a highly variable species) mentioned in the final line also connotes a sturdiness and/or variability to come. The remainder of the first section, Credo, provides seemingly experiental pieces such as Summer of Grandmothers, which touches on the way the dead always return when you need them the most; in addition to more exploratory pieces like The Trees that explore ideas of religion, mysticism and death where: ...the souls of the dead creep back to their graves in the jungles of the faraway in the absolutes of belief or superstition... Poems like these charge Kelly-DeWitt s language with superstition and a strong belief in the supernatural where ghosts both act as counsel for the speakers in her poems, and romp in the backdrops of her landscapes. To some, Kelly-DeWitt s discussion of the soul, that most-personal, and tangentially sentimental poetic element, might seem overbearing, but the variation that she employs in her discussion of religion and the supernatural is constantly refreshing. In her poem, Bypass, she equates the breathing machine that keeps her husband alive to God... Still in other poems, Kelly-DeWitt s language becomes mystical and is responsible for religious transformations of objects, as in Egrets at Bolinas Lagoon which accuses a quote of Van Gogh s for the transformation of birds that glowed like headlamps...into painters and poets. In, Credo, her final poem of the first section, Kelly-DeWitt posits her belief in the expectation of happenings. These happenings range from the mention of the deeper grasses / we call love to expectations of returning home, and observing nature at work and at rest. --The Great American Pinup
About the Author
Susan Kelly-DeWitt spent most of her childhood on Oahu, in what was then still the Territory of Hawaii. She is the author of a full-length collection, THE FORTUNATE ISLAND and five previous chapbooks. Her work has been included in national and regional anthologies. Over the years she has worked as a freelance writer and poetry columnist for the Sacramento Bee and Sacramento Union, as the editor of the on-line journal Perihelion and the print journal Quercus; she has been a California Poet-in-the-Schools, the program director of an arts program for homeless women, an educator, and an artist in the prisons. She lives in Sacramento, California, where she is an editor of Swan Scythe Press, an exhibiting visual artist and an instructor for Sacramento City College and the University of California, Davis Extension.
|5 star (0%)|
|4 star (0%)|
|3 star (0%)|
|2 star (0%)|
|1 star (0%)|