Brigit Pegeen Kelly: A Poet’s Poet

Here’s what Olivia has to say about Brigit Pegeen Kelly:

BIO:

Brigit Pegeen Kelly was born in Palo Alto, California, in 1951.

She is married to a fiction writer and poet, Michael Madonick.

Her first collection of poems, To The Place of Trumpets (1987)  was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Her third collection, The Orchard (2004), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. She has also won other honors and awards.

She has taught at the University of California at Irvine, Purdue University, and Warren Wilson College, as well as many writers’ conferences in the US and Ireland. In 2002 the University of Illinois awarded her both humanities and campus-wide awards for excellence in teaching. She is currently a professor of English at the University of Illinois.

AESTHETIC:

Poet Carl Phillips noted that “her poems are like no one else’s—hard and luminous, weird in the sense of making a thing strange, that we at last might see it, poems that from book to book show a strength that flexes itself both formally and in terms of content, in ways that continue to, at equal turns, teach and surprise.”“her poems are like no one else’s—hard and luminous, weird in the sense of making a thing strange, that we at last might see it, poems that from book to book show a strength that flexes itself both formally and in terms of content, in ways that continue to, at equal turns, teach and surprise

-Carl Phillips (poet)

“The religious imagination is part and parcel of Kelly’s work. Always in touch with the so-called natural world, her poems nonetheless present it ineluctably in Christian terms, whose implicit verities she invariably calls into question”

-Stephen Yenser (yale review)

“While continuing to explore ritual, belief, and doubt, Kelly’s later work has won praise for its stark, even shocking, portrayals of evil and transcendence. Using a menagerie of animals both real and invented, Kelly’s later work explores the slippage between fact and fantasy.

Influences:

…?

One thought on “Brigit Pegeen Kelly: A Poet’s Poet

  1. Liam March 9, 2012 / 4:10 pm

    I deeply admire Kelly’s poetry. For so many reasons.

    Her words are hauntingly beautiful. When you read her poetry aloud it sends a shock of tension and awe through the atmosphere of the room. People grow quiet. People listen. People reflect and think. Her poems are powerful. Gritty. Chimerical. You are transported into the scene. You can see and touch and taste the world she has created through her stellar techniques.

    She knows how to lure you in. Her poems: they stay with you for awhile. You don’t forget the whispered haunt that is Song. You see it, late at night when you’ve forgotten almost everything. You remember the poem. You remember the images and the way her words sounded rolling off your tongue.

    This power is beautiful. This power to entrance your reader and enlighten them. It is something that not many people are capable of doing. It is something that I strive for.

    I am not a stick-to-one-kind-of-form kind of poet. I like to experiment. Manipulate. I like to change things up every now and again. I find it boring to stick to the same exact style.

    My style does not tend to be like Kelly’s. Even when I change things up.

    I’m more fluid. Less concrete. I’m ineffectual at getting what is in the heart of the poem, what I see in my mind, onto the page.

    But that is not because my writing is different: it is because I have a long way to go before I become something. Before I know what it is I want to say and just how I should say it. I succeed, I fail. I am not perfect and I don’t think Kelly is either. I believe that it takes a great deal of willpower and strength to write things like she does. It takes something that I have not developed yet as a human being and as a writer.

    I would like to believe that my writing will one day be more akin to Kelly’s. I deeply wish for it. But I do not wish to force my writing to be like anyone’s. I want what she has to come naturally to me. I am not certain that this will ever come to pass but I am certain of one thing: I am in love with Kelly’s words. Her poetry, her aesthetic. She is an amazing poet.

    She also is indeed a poet’s poet. For I am only one of millions of young poets who look up to her for inspiration.

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