Cargo, by Kristin Kelly
"It's just not natural," observes the speaker of one of Kristin Kelly's poems, in a tone of supercharged deadpan that is one of the dozens of frequencies this work inhabits. I have rarely read a book that expresses the feeling of being unnatural with such disquieting precision. Some unnamed crisis has befallen Kelly's speaker, leaving her broken off from herself, yet compelled to bear her salvaged remnants through these poems. In Kelly's vision, the sun is a stripped-bare rock, the human body "a weight in the room," the soul an inchoate cargo. Her enforced detachment yields a clarity of encounter, an exactness of phrase, an extraordinary formal anxiety, and a capacity for empathetic transport that feels, to this reader, like an equivalence of grace. This is a beautiful book, brilliant and heartbreaking, that has somehow discovered within postmodern style a way to speak with utter genuineness of matters of life and death. --Mark Levine
Again and again the poems in Cargo, in their riveting swerves, fierce comedy, and syntactic dazzle, display the sort of refined and concentrated music and lexical suspense that only poetry can. "It's a gift/of mine, finding beauty in potential mishap," writes Kristin Kelly, and that tension of instability conveys a keen and original longing in its ricochetting wit in this deft, darting, daring book. --Dean Young
. . .the sonics are spectacular in their spiky intelligence and angular beauty. And yet, my commentary on Kelly's book, put together as fragments much in the way that one might rummage through a suitcase to fit this piece of clothing with that, leaves out one crucial element: how proud, and how lucky, I feel to be introducing Cargo to the world. --Diann Blakely
Kristin Kelly was born in Kansas City. She has been the recipient of a Walter and Nancy Kidd Prize from the University of Oregon and a Maytag Fellowship from the Iowa Writers Workshop. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she owns a women's boutique, Ode.