Synopses & Reviews
Poetry. "Keelan's work, always politically engaged, here takes a tender and personal turn. Much of what is mourned in these interwoven elegies is private, close in, but even the larger, more public themes--the Vietnam War, Jesus, the oil industry, September 11--are brought to an intimate scale. The central long poem 'Everybody's Autobiography' achieves a masterful fusion of political history, personal responsibility, and communal grief. A deep-feeling collection not afraid to look loss in the face"--Cole Swensen.
"Like Mary Jo Bang's recent NBCC-winning Elegy, Keelan's new collection examines the nature of grief through poetry, gathering together a sequence of elegies and poems on loss. The opening group of what Keelan (The Devotion Field) calls 'Little Elegies' mourns various losses, including a girl who died at 14 ('Imagine, she's finally a sexy teenager') and famous poets Keelan had known, including Robert Creeley and Kenneth Koch ('I heard the echo of your line resound// Through the hearts of thousands'), as well as the Virgin Mary and the victims of 9/11. Keelan's jerky, fragmentary poems also examine the violence of other contemporary phenomena, such as the video game Grand Theft Auto ('He wins the game!/ Choosing each time to crash/ & not to kill'). Elsewhere, she looks at how language itself points to absence: 'I believed the linguist// On the radio who said words are most interesting// When they indicate something not there,// Something not inherently in or of themselves.' The striking long poem 'Everybody's Autobiography' recalls Keelan's own and others' pasts. Keelan, one of our best, if too little known, experimental poets, does what she can in this sixth collection to steady 'the human boat' which 'Came capsizing...// Came lost.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Keelan's work is at times difficult to follow, skipping from French philosophy to popular culture, and from the general to the very personal. Each image, however, is firmly drawn, counterpointing the rapid shuffling of images with a sustained clarity. This can be disorienting, but also exciting — her poems never stop moving." Rebecca Morales, Rain Taxi
(read the entire Rain Taxi review
Keelan's work, always politically engaged, here takes a tender and personal turn.
In poems performed via scat singing, via documentary, poems devoted to the sui generis, Missing Her redefines the elegy as a seeking statement.
About the Author
Claudia Keelan is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently MISSING HER (New Issues Press, 2009), and has published poems widely in magazines and journals, including The American Poetry Review, Smartish Pace, Electronic Poetry Review, Conduit, Pequod, AMERICAN LETTERS and COMMENTARY, and Jacket Magazine. She has published poems and essays in anthologies including The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood, (Wesleyan University Press, 2003) and American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (W.W. Norton, 2009). She directs the MFA program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and serves as the editor of Interim, the university's annual literary review. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband, the poet Donald Revell, and their children.