Kelly Cherry Examines the Domain of Language in The Life and Death of Poetry

“Unpretentious and stimulating, Kelly Cherry’s The Life and Death of Poetry, in exemplary fashion, extends the tradition of the Ars Poetica for the twenty-first-century reader: these poems instruct and delight as they do, yet not didactically so. There is music as you go. How can one not invite such poems into one’s life that honor language, love, other poems and poets, the natural world, and the spirit of living with so much force of wit, imagistic precision, and bighearted intelligence? Kelly Cherry makes dedicated listeners of us all.”—Major Jackson

Clear and accessible, the poems in Kelly Cherry’s The Life and Death of Poetry examine the intricacies and limitations of communication and its ability to help us transcend our world and lives.

The poet begins with silence and animal sound before taking on literature, public discourse, and the particular art of poetry. The sequence “Welsh Table Talk” considers the unsaid, or unsayable, as a man, his daughter, and his daughter’s friend sojourn on Bardsey Island in Wales with the father’s female companion. The innocence and playful chatter of the children throw into sharp relief a desolate landscape and failed communication between the adults.

In the book’s final section, Cherry considers translation, great art’s grand sublimity, and the relation of poetry—the divine tongue—to the everyday world. Witty, poignant, wise, and joyous, The Life and Death of Poetry offers a masterful new collection from an accomplished poet.

Kelly Cherry has previously published twenty books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, nine chapbooks, and translations of two classical plays. She is Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She and her husband live in Virginia.

March 2013
80 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper $19.95
LSU Press Paperback Original