05/08/2013 03:02 PM
BATON ROUGE – Clear and accessible, the poems in Kelly Cherry’s “The Life and Death
of Poetry,” available from LSU Press, examine the intricacies and limitations of communication
and its ability to help readers transcend the world and their lives.
The poet begins with silence and animal sound before taking on literature, public
discourse, and the particular art of poetry. The sequence “Welsh Table Talk” considers
the unsaid, or unsayable, as a man, his daughter, and his daughter’s friend sojourn
on Bardsey Island in Wales with the father’s female companion. The innocence and playful
chatter of the children throw into sharp relief a desolate landscape and failed communication
between the adults.
In the book’s final section, Cherry considers translation, great art’s grand sublimity,
and the relation of poetry – the divine tongue – to the everyday world. Witty, poignant,
wise, and joyous, “The Life and Death of Poetry” offers a masterful new collection
from an accomplished poet.
Cherry has previously published 20 books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction; nine
chapbooks; and translations of two classical plays. She is Eudora Welty Professor
Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University
of Wisconsin–Madison. She and her husband live in Virginia.
Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013