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Blood Feather
Karla Kelsey
Tupelo Press, 2020
An inspired and engaging perspective of feminist art-making in a fractured world, Blood Feather reimagines resistance. With the help of three fictive narrators, an actress, a thinker, and a filmmaker create boundless opportunities for relatability. Caught up in a hurricane of identities, the actress wonders where the performance of character stops, saying, “rain has/a way of showing costumes for/what they really are”. The thinker, a so-called muse for her architect husband, searches for her self in a lyric embodying the molting process of a bird. This kind of evolution is central to all narratives, inspiring the reader to reflect on their own passages of growth. Taking its title from a vulnerable new feather of a bird that contains a constant flow of blood, Blood Feather reminds us of the essential yet fragile position of art. Protest and resistance can take that vital place of the blood inside of the feather in order to assert the importance of artful poetry such as this.

front cover of A Conjoined Book
A Conjoined Book
Aftermath and Become Tree, Become Bird
Karla Kelsey
Omnidawn, 2014
Karla Kelsey’s A Conjoined Book hinges together two texts—Aftermath and Become Tree, Become Bird—to create a meditation on the nature of aboutness. Aftermath unfolds after an unnamed ecological/emotional fracture, creating a landscape of rift where the “I” imagines herself as “she,” and perceptions weave into memory and fiction. Become Tree, Become Bird grafts the Brothers Grimm’s The Juniper Tree to the body of Aftermath, reworking what has splintered into a variation of fairy tale. Throughout A Conjoined Book, Kelsey’s condensed imagery, shifting viewpoints, and interwoven formal structures set lyric and narrative a-shimmer. Blending experiment and tradition, this book will appeal to a wide audience interested in seeing how fairy tale, philosophy, ecology, narratology, history. As Julie Carr writes: “horror, elegy, mystery, fairy tale, lyric, treatise, fragment meet one another with all their intensities of emotion and intellect.”

front cover of On Certainty
On Certainty
Karla Kelsey
Omnidawn, 2023
Lyrical poems that tell the story of a nameless woman navigating a technological dystopia.
In the poems of On Certainty, an unnamed woman in a strangely familiar dystopia narrates a story of power and decline, where the Tyrant has gained ascendency and the Philosopher is dying. Here, the Tyrant rules over a decimated ecology filled with android deer, burnt towns, and exhausted individuals dependent on virtual reality augmentation. In choosing whether to take the Philosopher’s place in a struggle against the Tyrant, the narrator must consider how her decision may perpetuate the currently existing catastrophic systems.
Weaving together speculative fiction, philosophical aphorism, lyric fragment, and documentary technique, On Certainty echoes the contemporary world that can feel simultaneously quotidian and strange.

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