Lives Brought to Life
In Rise Wildly, poet and journalist Tina Kelley writes with precision, heart, and humor, with an unabashed love of big words and small children. She has heard and told hundreds of stories, and, like all reporters, aims for the facts and the psychological heft behind them on matters ranging from marriage and child-rearing to caregiving for her mother and her earth. Her mind catches on shiny facts and phrases that she gathers in combinations that can surprise, delight, and inform. Both reverent and irreverent, but always aiming for accuracy and empathy, she explores the darkest corners, then lifts her eyes high.
Tina Kelley’s earlier books include Abloom & Awry (CavanKerry Press, 2017); Ardor, which won the Jacar Press 2017 chapbook competition; Precise (Word Poetry, 2013); and The Gospel of Galore (Word Poetry, 2002), winner of a 2003 Washington State Book Award. She coauthored Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, and reported for The New York Times for a decade, sharing in a staff Pulitzer for 9/11 coverage. Her writing has appeared in Poetry East, Southwest Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Best American Poetry 2009. She and her husband have two children and live in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Throughout Rise Wildly, Tina Kelley’s elixir of Vitamin Awe (the apt title of one of her poems) imbues dailiness with the magic of attention. Kelley’s deceptively simple questions and instructions bring us to our senses: “Count how often each year you let rain fall on your face.” Rise Wildly is both an extended love poem and a prayer of gratitude for a world that, as Kelley reminds us, is as precarious as it is precious.
—Rachel Hadas, whose most recent books are Love and Dread and Poems for Camilla
In Rise Wildly, Tina Kelley wows us with her infectious wonder of the earthly and the divine. She is the queen of the cool fact, mistress of the miraculous. We learn that there are “100,000 undersea mountains, / only a thousand of them named” and that “a baby giggles, on average, 400 times a day.” With humor and musicality, she invites us to consider that “It didn’t have to be this way. Snowflakes could’ve been dull.” Horrible things happen. There are “dozens of blistering ways to die,” and yet here she is, reassuring us that the statue of Saint Francis will continue “presenting his heart / to the light.” These are poems our times demand: reverent, awe-inspiring, and utterly holy.
—Martha Silano, author of Gravity Assist and Reckless Lovely
From “A Dozen Secrets from God”
Count how often each year you let rain fall on your face.
When your dog is listening to you, he’s not frustrated.
He doesn’t wish he knew what you are saying. You sound to him
the way birds sound to you. You’re simply chirping.
The stars are just glints shining through a blurry lens;
I am the big thing shining behind.
And you, you are wine for the eyes.
From “The Mutual Gratitude of Fountain and Solstice”
the blooming from the hailing, then
adds flotsam’s jetsam, shakes, then stirs.
Both will offer you front row seats,
praise goosebumps under terry cloth,
hijack you in whirlpooling
growing and dying—marry you.
Solstice: yet-unblown dandelion.
Fountain: tiara worn deep in
the Junest moonlit ballroom night.
Pub date – November 3, 2020
Trade paper – 7 X 9.5″
Emerging Voices – Poetry
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