Some time back, on one of my Wednesday Poet Series features, I highlighted a North Western poet by the name of Kelli Russell Agodon. This past week, I’ve been reading her book Small Knots published in 2004 by Cherry Grove Collections out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her poetry is intricately layered and stirring.
A few of my favorites from the book are:
Fifty-Six Knots, which touches me with iconic references to the Rosary and the way she has woven the lives of women together, and counting, and Hail Marys bleeding from the walls. Collection plates filling with broken rosaries and the suffered woman in the corner who unties each knot, allowing the beads to fall, baptizing the marble floors…. can you not hear that sound?
If you look closely at the poem on the page, it is constructed of 4 sever line stanzas. Each has a center justified fourth line creating a pattern as though it were strung together. Genius!
Vacationing With Sylvia Plath: Each of four stanzas begins by asking, Maybe if….
A poet’s contemplation that asks aloud and sort of comes back to me as an internalized echo. If the clouds didn’t look like tombstones… if the ocean didn’t seem so final… if I had a chocolate bar between breakdowns… these all grow in crescendo and the final stanza so strong that I won’t repeat it. You need to read it yourself.
It’s Easy to wake up in someone’s poem… (I love titles that become the first line)
Couplets that capture snippets of life around us. Real people you feel you must know being pulled into the page, their lives blots if ink… and in the same way you see how people awake one morning and presto! They become poems.
These are just three… The book is a real treat to read. Kelli is not so mundane as to write simply assessable work, but something that is just over the line and will likely appeal as well to those who like something just a bit more conceptual without going overboard.