“The reader of Angel Bones is given the ability to overhear this private conversation about our planet and our place here between the poet who is no longer here and her beloved, who is. The reader, who (like me and you, and any of us) faces the same questions of death, of absence, of what time does to one’s body, to one's cry, is able to find herein an intimate, clear voice that speaks beautifully, straightforwardly, without patronizing, with kindness and tenderness: this is how we live, this is how we die.”
Ilyse Kusnetz (1966-2016), poet, essayist, and journalist, is the author of Small Hours, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, and The Gravity of Falling. She earned a PhD in contemporary feminist and postcolonial British literature form the University of Edinburgh. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Orion Magazine, Rattle, Guernica Daily, Islands Magazine, Kyoto Journal, Mānoa and The Normal School, among others, as well as in anthologies including The Room and the World; The Book of Scented Things; Devouring the Green: Fear of a Transhuman Planet; and Monstrous Verse: Angels, Demons, Vampires, Ghosts, and Fabulous Beasts. She guest-edited Scottish poetry features for Poetry International and the Atlanta Review. She co-wrote "Vox Humana,” the poetic text to a composition which premiered with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra. She is the lead voice and lyricist for the Interplanetary Acoustic Team, and their debut album 11 11 (Me, Smiling) was released in 2018. A professor at Valencia College, Ilyse lived with her husband, Brian Turner, in Orlando, Florida.
“Heart-stopping, beautifully crafted poems which add to the world even as the poet is leaving it. Ilyse Kusnetz poems are songs of light as the darkness encroaches; beacons of courage and love for the journey we must all take. These poems, that stare death frankly in the eye, are unexpectedly uplifting and very good-humoured. Angel Bones is one of those books you quickly grow to love.”
—Jackie Kay, Scots Makar
"In the face of her cancer diagnosis—'candle-bright spots in the marrow'—Ilyse Kusnetz’s sense of the fragility and impermanence of the world became an inescapable fact. In this second and final collection, the poet tries on every stance she can find toward her own mortality. Sometimes illness is a quotidian fact: 'My hair fell out, I learned to walk again./Before we knew, it was summer...' Sometimes the world she is leaving is radiant: 'wonder at the perfect Hebrew letters/imprinted on a green crab’s back...' What carries Kusnetz through, binding together what could have been the chaos of her last days, is love, the way she is held in her beloved’s care, the way she holds him firmly in her unwavering gaze. Angel Bones is a book of love poems, a testament to the way two lovers held strong until the end, and it leaves its readers more than saddened. We’re strengthened."
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