Karla Kelsey’s well-polished poetic objects remind one of sculpture, of solid materials worked and reworked until they acquire, by the sculptor’s handKarla Kelsey’s well-polished poetic objects remind one of sculpture, of solid materials worked and reworked until they acquire, by the sculptor’s hands, freedom of movement in the face of restraint, bounded energy, artful repose.
daily begun from. The blue paper crane hangs in the tree, arc of thrust and drag. You left plumed. You arrived telling of golden sands and a golden sea, sidereal navigation bringing the bird home over bright blooms of fire, explosion
Her poems are literally shaped by punctuation. Stanzas are broken by asterisks; a cacophony of backslashes populates a single line; images reach toward other images from the far edge of a page. In this way Kelsey bestows on her readers one of poetry’s greatest gifts: the space for contemplation.
Gone to the window, light there wood-glossy and in non-repose
As in pick up the seeds and throw them into the street
As in 1 color, gone gold and so seeing, all blurred around the edges and walking
A reader’s journey through her first book, Knowledge Forms The Aviary, is like a twilit walk through a walled garden rich with juxtaposition; everyday objects keep company with blooming botanicals, birds alight on the branches of trees. Inspired by Plato’s image of the mind at work, an aviary populated by diverse and divergent species of birds, his symbols of knowledge, Kelsey invites her reader to examine contemporary experience through the optics of the past. An eighteenth century gardener’s dictionary becomes a touchstone for descriptions of flora; an epic Romantic poem teaches the value of scientific language. These elements and others work together to make poetry that is smooth, seamless, whose beautiful moments are path through today’s crashing babel.
Patterns on the siding, amber waves of decibels to perform the particles
a waking as if we slept, here, the street going on before
as the street goes on in moments of reverberation
Now, in her new work, Iteration Nets, a contemporary take on the sonnet form, forthcoming from Ahsahta Press, Kelsey curates an exhibit of sound sculptures, their strict, formal framework a structure for musical language buttressed by rhyme scheme and rhythm. The first section, comprised strictly of sonnets, is “exploded out” in the second into related prose poems that are, in the third, erased to lyrical fragments. In this way Karla Kelsey illustrates the transitory nature of meaning, reminding us that understanding is mutable, and art full of possibility.