Poet and fiction writer, Robert Kelly was born in 1935 in Brooklyn, and educated at CCNY and Columbia, where he studied mediaeval literature and linguistics. His first book, Armed Descent, was published in 1961; since then he has published over sixty more, most recently the poetry collection UNCERTAINTIES, the novel The Book from the Sky, the long poem Fire Exit, and his fifth collection of short stories, The Logic of the World. He has been especially interested in collaborations with artists (The Garden of Distances, Shame) and other poets (Mont Blanc, Unquell the Dawn Now). He was a founder of Chelse and Trobar, and an editor of Caterpillar, Alcheringa, and Conjunctions. He is the Asher B. Edelman Professor of Literature at Bard College, where he started the writing program in the Milton Avery Graduate School. He co-directs the Program in Written Arts. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, the translator Charlotte Mandell.
Uncertaintiesby Robert Kelly
Poetry. "Call and response. The breathing body of poetry from the beginning. The psalms of David, the wave of them, rise and fall of plainchant, verse and response. The constantly shifting pause between the half-lines of Old English poetry and the poems of the Edda, the half-lines of the Kalevala swayed out four-handed on the saga bench. So I thought/em>… See more details below
Poetry. "Call and response. The breathing body of poetry from the beginning. The psalms of David, the wave of them, rise and fall of plainchant, verse and response. The constantly shifting pause between the half-lines of Old English poetry and the poems of the Edda, the half-lines of the Kalevala swayed out four-handed on the saga bench. So I thought towards the two-line stanza as experiments in duration, in complex syntactic and melodic demands. The melody of the first line necessitates the melody of the next. Shape shaping shape. Formally, the poem engages with one constraint: each line wants to be semantically intact—ideally, any line could stand alone, be my Last Words, my epitaph. Yet it also must link syntactically or narratively with the line that follows. And each stanza must stand in like relation with the stanzas before and after. This requirement extends to line structure something that I have worked with for years (usually furtively): hypersyntax, where phrases link with what comes before or after, or plausibly stand alone. UNCERTAINTIES tries to use these strategies in mental strife, to solicit the dissolving of certainties in between the inbreath and the outbreath, where nothing is fixed, and freedom begins"—Robert Kelly.
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