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The Orchard (American Poets Continuum) [Paperback]

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Item description for The Orchard (American Poets Continuum) by Brigit Pegeen Kelly & Brigit Kelly Pegen...

Richly allusive, the poems in Brigit Pegeen Kelly's The Orchard evoke elements of myth in distinctive aural and rhythmic patterns. Her poetic strength lies in her ability to cast poems as modern myths and allegories. Propelled by patterned repetitions and lush cadences, the poems move the reader through a landscape where waking and dream consciousness fuse.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly teaches creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her poetry collections are Song (BOA Editions), the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the 1995 Los Angeles Times Book Award, and To the Place of Trumpets, selected by James Merrill for the 1987 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   88
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2004
Publisher   BOA Editions Ltd.
ISBN  1929918488  
ISBN13  9781929918485  

Availability  0 units.

More About Brigit Pegeen Kelly & Brigit Kelly Pegen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Brigit Pegeen Kelly teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also teaches at numerous writers' conferences in the United States and Ireland. Her poetry collections are Song (BOA Editions), the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets and a Finalist for the 1995 Los Angeles Times Book Award, and To the Place of Trumpets, selected by James Merrill for the 1987 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. She is a recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award and the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly was born in 1951.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English > American Literature
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > United States
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > 20th Century
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Orchard (American Poets Continuum)?

Not bad stuff, but exceptionally heavy.  Jul 7, 2005
Brigit Pegeen Kelly, The Orchard (BOA Editions, 2004)

The Orchard is the kind of book one doesn't see too often these days; it's poetry that's "academic" in the trust sense of the word, thick almost to the point of unreadability with diction that's just this side of archaic, layer upon layer of symbolism, and all that sort of thing that makes high school and college English professors foam at the mouth. There is little doubt in my mind, having read this book, that Kelly is on the fast track to canonization; this is substantiated by The Orchard having been nominated for a National Book Critics' Circle Award this year. Because of all this, there's the temptation to compare her to poets already in the canon (there's certainly a good argument to be made for comparing her style and diction, and probably substance, to that of, say, Pound, or to a lesser extent Eliot). I'll try to avoid it, given the length limits I'm stuck with, but those with more room than I have might want to take a crack at it.

The basic problem with the canon is that, while it's often beautiful work (as is the case here), it sometimes lets the simple factors of readability and accessibility fall by the wayside in order to be deep. The best poets who flirt with canonization-- Li-Young Lee is the one who springs immediately to mind-- have the depth and flavor, but also have that surface layer that says "here's a poem; if all you get out of it is what you see on the surface, that's okay." Kelly's work has a marked absence of this trait; the language itself almost seems to be pointing the reader toward the depths, saying "in order to get anything out of this poem, you'd best come armed with a knowledge of mythology, and an OED would probably help as well." Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it's likely to turn away those not yet familiar with poetry these days; as we all know, at the turn of the twenty-first century, "those not yet familiar with poetry" is, well, almost everyone.

Recommended for advanced readers. Newcomers to the scene might want to go with a little lighter reading.
Struck  May 27, 2004
A few decades back, when Jon Anderson wrote that "the secret of poetry is cruelty," he must have had something like Brigit Kelly's poems in mind. Kelly's third book, The Orchard, continues her fascination with the suffering and cruelty that lies somewhere between the animal and the human, obsessing over pain directly linked with physical beauty.

It's important to note that the speaker in Kelly's poem is a witness to suffering rather than an instigator. She seeks to comfort and justify those in pain, the human and animal, the living and the dead, to name them with poetical power, as she does a diseased dog in "The Wolf," linking that dog to wolf and then wolf to myth, making "of her something / Better than she could make of herself". This poem is one of the finest in a collection full of fine poems.

And Kelly likes her descriptions steeped in beauty and terror. In the last line of "Elegy" she writes, "Brighter than a bed of lilies struck by snow." That violent "struck" means everything to Kelly's poetics. It's subtle, hidden between the blinding purity of the lilies and the snow.


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