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While the Kettle's On

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  28 ratings  ·  10 reviews
While the Kettle's On, published by Little Balkans Press, is Melissa Fite Johnson's first book of poetry.

"While the Kettle's On openly, whimsically and originally explores homecoming, whirling its journey through past generations, the present body, making home, unmaking the self, and everyday love. This strong first collection lands on what is, and what is behind what is,
Paperback, 88 pages
Published February 25th 2015 by Little Balkans Press
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Caleb Hoyer
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first read this collection in 2015. I’ve opened it up and read select poems many times in the intervening years, but this was my first time reading the entire book since that first time. It was especially interesting to revisit it after reading Melissa Fite Johnson’s latest collection, A Crooked Door Cut Into The Sky. Not that much time has passed, but they feel like time capsules of different poets and different people. The subjects of the poems in this collection are much more wide ranging, ...more
Chris Blocker
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
A bit of a mixed collection. All the poems here are really honest and accessible. Some are definitely more thought-provoking, observant, and evocative. Personal favorites were "Summer Wedding" and "Ode to Washing Dishes." ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Although Melissa Fite Johnson’s WHILE THE KETTLE'S ON is autobiographical, this fresh, candid poetry collection expands beyond the “Confessional” niche. With wit, restraint, and insights to human nature, she shares stories and characters from her family in the book’s first section “Four Generations” and her new life as a married woman in the final section "The Ballad of Marc and Melissa.” In between, the sections, “Revising the Body,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Vulnerability” display scenes from ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Johnson’s poems are clear, spare gems of observation about the simple things that tell our life stories – hand-scrawled notes, Ball jars, and dish washing. She focuses mainly on her family, but readers will feel they’re reading about their own families, too. Although the poems don’t fall in chronological order, she begins in “The Things We Keep” about her father’s early death and comes full circle, ending with her own “Summer Wedding.” The first poem tells us about the notes her dad wrote to her ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
While the Kettle’s On is a rare collection of poetry that manages to balance depth and lyricism with accessibility—these are poems that you’ll understand instantly, but you’ll want to read them and consider them again and again. Melissa Fite Johnson invites readers into a world both familiar and new with poems of family history, coming of age, and married life. These are honest poems that reveal the poet’s unique insight and experience, but they don’t rely on shock value to hook readers. Instead ...more
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Note: I'm reading a (short) stack of collections by four contemporary Kansas poets. This is #1 of 4.
I don’t read a lot of poetry and I definitely don't have any training in form (or lack thereof) so I came at these with an attitude of “I don’t know what’s considered ‘good’ but I know what I like.”

I really liked this collection. The poems center on family and daily life, modern without being modernistic. The writing is clear and evocative without seeming “crafted" or overly lyrical, and it flows
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry

Fite Johnson’s first published collection of poems is divided into five thematic sections, and the title of each section seems a perfect fit. I particularly enjoyed the themes within the section titled “Revising the Body,” but my favorite single poem, “Adoption,” belongs to the section titled “Four Generations.” I name this as my favorite poem for a couple of specific reasons, and both reasons represent the qualities I admire in this entire collection: apparently simple stories suddenly become d
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writ-by-women, pomes
Melissa F-J is several kinds of observer: sometimes simply looking out a window, sometimes looking into her future, or sometimes at the people around her. Her poems always offer us a picture of her own heart.
PottWab Regional Library
Jul 15, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2016-new
Kim Lenger
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Melissa Fite Johnson is the author of Green (forthcoming, Riot in Your Throat). She holds a BSEd in English and an MA in creative writing and literature from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Her publications include Pleiades, SWWIM, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Stirring, Broadsided Press, Whale Road Review. Her first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), and her second, ...more

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