Poetry. A new selection of Robert Kelly's poems not otherwise included in his recent series of books. Jerome Rothenberg writes: Kelly "represents for me & for many others a poet of the greatest powers & with a devotion to our art & to the shared life from which it springs second to none in my memory."
Robert Kelly was born in Brooklyn in 1935, father an accountant who sang, mother taught grammar school. Where else could he go but poetry? He went to a Jesuit school then CCNY and Columbia, classics, linguistics. Came to actual poetry through Coleridge, Pound, Yeats, Rilke, Duncan, New York in the 50s sustained him with joyous comrades, Blackburn, Antin, Rothenberg. After working as a translator (German, technical) for a few years, he was invited to teach for a year at Wagner College, then for the rest of his academic life, sixty-one years at Bard College, where he was blessed with incredibly creative students who allowed him to urge them towards poetry. If he could list their names, it might be a truer index of his work. In any case, he has written close to a hundred books of poetry, fiction, essays, even a play or two, and has started several little magazines (Chelsea Review, Trobar, Matter). In the past decade the main work was the five volumes of poetry he called The Island Cycle (Fire Exit (Commonwealth Books, Black Widow, 2009), UNCERTAINTIES (Stationhill Press, 2011), The Hexagon (Commonwealth Books, Black Widow, 2016), HEART THREAD (Lunar Chandelier Collective, 2016), Calls (Lunar Chandelier Collective, 2018)), and in this past year a long poem The Cup, and Shadow Talk, a score of fairy tales.
Kelly lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, Charlotte Mandell, translator of Proust, Enard, Littell, Nancy, Blanchot and so many more, and editor of Metambesen, a pioneering venture publishing books and chapbooks of poetry online.