“. . .a genuine and not-at-all trite sense of gratitude for the miracles of daily life provides responses, if not answers, to Keelan’s questions, but many post-elections readers will find her inquiries into the larger patterns and parameters of the national soul more pressing.”
Available in print.
Claudia Keelan is the author of four collections of poetry, including Refinery, which won the Cleveland State University Poetry Prize, The Secularist, a winner in the 1997 Contemporary Poetry Series from the University of Georgia Press, and Utopic, which won the 2000 Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books. Her poetry has been anthologized in What Will Suffice: Contemporary Poets on the Ars Poetica and the 1997 Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry. Her criticism has been reprinted in the 1993 edition of Contemporary Authors. Ms. Keelan's honors include a 1990 Jesse Stuart Award for excellence in teaching; a 1991 fellowship from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico; a 1992 grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women; and in 1997 The Secularist was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award.
“Charged with negative capability, Keelan’s avant-garde collection plays in multiple dimensions….Like a linguistic ethicist—like a mad, social-science hybrid with a knack for transcending—Keelan wonders what worldly results might be achieved by a re-framing, on the level of the pronoun, of our grammatical relationship to the world. Given our sense, given evidence of life on many levels, can we second-and-third-person ourselves? Can we out ourselves toward awareness beyond our singular frames? What kind of relationships are possible when borders are permeable?…Keelan’s de-centered voices proliferate through leaps of metaphor and association, in choral compositions eulogizing the national soul.”
“. . .notions of plastic language, wit, humor, religious and philosophical considerations underlie all the work in this book. Keelan isn’t scared to make pictures or be simple—there are plenty of striking, careful images here; love poems, too—but neither is she afraid to grapple with ideas and explore the notions of writing and interior life. These poems may be rooted in experience, experiences which ring true, but they are used as stepping stones to something else: that something being poetry rather than stories told in broken lines.”
“Claudia Keelan’s The Devotion Field fully confirms the promise of her earlier books, especially the recent Utopic. The quotidian world of what seems to be things, “dog food and soil,” “dust and bits of paper,” flows naturally and luminously into the world of ideas, which becomes even more palpable. ‘Into the possibilities of the next page,/ Or more nearly, another day.’ The transit, returning us to where we always are, is breathtaking.”
More by Claudia Keelan: