A Strange Market

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Poems from a master who thinks of the poet as a scientist aiming for holistic understanding.

“No American poet except perhaps Wallace Stevens has his sense of balance in a line. What Eliot and Pound slaved over Kelly seems to have an innate gift for balancing out… And he prefers a multiple subject. He has the Chinese sense of bringing diverse things together into a stark- symbol, and is happiest when he himself can’t quite see the meaning of the sign he’s made. Thus his poems are mysteries to be pondered, something to dream on rather than to puzzle out. To understand in our times has sadly come to mean to dismiss; Kelly moves in the opposite direction. I should think that he would be interesting to the philosophers (had we any), for he seems to me to be a man determined to think deeply and carefully about Being itself (perhaps the one subject that pervades his poetry).”—Guy Davenport

Dream narratives, elegies, prayers, anecdotes, parables, dialogues, and folktales from a land that may not exist. . . Kelly has done something remarkable. He has given magic back its dignity, finding it in human warmth.
––Joseph Donahue, Bookforum

Poem after poem builds on razor-sharp textures that draw the eye to the obvious and to the hidden world behind it. Here again is poetry that gleams in the light of the numinous.
The Bloomsbury Review

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Robert Kelly has published more than fifty books of poetry and prose. He was born in Brooklyn and educated at City College and Columbia University. Soon after finishing his studies at Columbia, Kelly accepted a position at Bard College, where he is currently the Asher B. Edelman Professor of Literature and the Co-Director of the Program in Written Arts. He also serves on the editorial board of Poetry International. He lives in Dutchess County, New York, which named him their Poet Laureate in 2016.