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Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room (White Pine Press Poetry Prize) Paperback – October 19, 2010
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About the Author
Her work has been appeared in literary magazines and anthologies such as the Atlantic Monthly, Prairie Schooner, Notre Dame Review, North American Review, Image, 5 a.m, Meridian, Crab Orchard Review, Calyx, The Seattle Review, Poets Against the War edited by Sam Hamill, as well as on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor and in Keillor's second anthology, Good Poems for Hard Times (Viking Press).
Kelli is a recipient of three Washington State Artist Trust GAP grants, the James Hearst Poetry Prize, the Dorothy Rosenberg Poetry Prize, the William Stafford Award, the Carlin Aden Award for formal verse, a Soapstone Writer's Residency, and a grant from the Puffin Foundation for her work towards peace and as a poetry editor for the broadside series: The Making of Peace.
Currently, Kelli lives in a seaside community in the Northwest with her family. She is the co-editor of Seattle’s literary journal, Crab Creek Review. Visit her website at: www.agodon.com
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Top customer reviews
We say dishrag and ribtaker
instead of homemaker.
Use whiplash and lackluster
instead of breadwinner . . .
There are days when sippy cups
become purgatory and family vacation
suggests space mission . . .
I don't want to say fishhook
when I mean marriage, or not-tonight
when what I meant to say is: I can't explain
my sadness or the night has stolen the sky.
It's rare to find a poet with such a keen ear for the vernacular. Before Agodon sat down to write this book, she carefully took America's pulse; she "gets" what it means to be a mother/wife/daughter/writer in a consumer-driven, spiritually-anemic culture. With refreshing honesty, the speaker confesses, in "Quiet Collapse in the Dharma Shop": "I charged spirituality / on my VISA" and "what might improve my mood is / a new bra and some bravery. I believe her when she says "I pray to anything these days--/the plants without names, the beetles, / my garden of hissing snakes," and I am buffeted by her news that
We were not born with wings
Like fireflies, we've had to invent what holds us
Agodon is by turns versatile, ambidextrous, inventive, grave, and funny as all get out in this stunning collection. If you like reading poems that encompass not only what's going on down the street but also way past Pluto, this is a book for you.
One of the many appealing aspects of this collection is Agodon's fanciful interest in the esoteric scientific fact, an interest that is matched by her talent for tenderly rendering human feelings and relationships. With great dexterity, the poet often brings the two together as in this definition of love: "half a heart floating over a speck of dust." Agodon also has a talent for the stunning closing line, e.g., this one from "Year of the Meteor Shower," spoken by a young husband to his new bride as they begin to land after a turbulent flight from Mexico to Seattle: "Too much city, not enough stars."
The smallest thing engages this poet's attention--the fruit fly, flowers, birds--as do the big things--the moon, meteors, and space flight. Running throughout the collection and providing its inner structure is an interest in letters--letters of the alphabet, literary letters, words, mistaken words, missing words, and wordsmiths. Emily Dickinson would be proud to find her name embedded in the title of this collection.
Agodon dissects both a pig and depression. She offers survival techniques when you've fallen through the ice, to a lover when they really needed instructions for relationship survival.
She sews poverty to her blouse, found Jesus under her covers, has faith stuck to the "Roof of her house" and it has its own ringtone. This is an indelible manuscript that teeters between life's lessons and life's humor. She takes the Tasmanian devil as a life coach and becomes "the person the room stops for".
In a room full of poetry books, I would recommend Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room (White Pine Press Poetry Prize) as one book to stop for.