sho Say What? | The Poetry of Lee Kisling

Say What?

Reader Comments

 

  • “I love the content and voice of your poetry…you have powerful things to say and share, as well as an uplifting play with language.”

 

  • “I have yet to read a poem like Write 50 Times until now. Borrowings is one of those poems that touches the soft spots in a person’s heart. Kindly Give Up is a very thoughtful piece of work.”

 

  • “This is a unique collection — the narrative is spectacular. These are some complex poems, but I don’t get the sense that you tried too hard to make them something they’re not. By far, you proved your personality in Write 50 Times.” I really enjoyed reading that one.”

 

  • “Your poems are poetry without trying to be so. They have an ease that still leaves thoughts lingering, meaning I can read through them without stopping every line and staring into eternity, but they have substance. They have that way of catching the intangible feel of life that mostly we just breathe on in. I do put my hand in my shirt but I’m quite fond of Write 50 Times.”

 

  • “Very nice free verse. I especially enjoyed your last piece about “no gum chewing in class.” As a home schooling parent with anti-establishment sensibilities regarding our public school system’s overall usefulness for fostering learning and growth in our generation of youth, I found this poem to be deliciously naughty, provocative and unfortunately accurate.”

 

  • “Hi. I enjoyed your poems. How Music Came to My Father is an incredible poem. It feels like a poem of forgiveness. Borrowings – I loved the line ‘old books about fathers and grandfathers with brittle pages’. I liked also the magic of this poem – a magical place where fathers are checked out.”

 

  • Borrowings – what a lovely lyric. Beautiful and sad in thought, looks great on the page, wonderful images conveying a mysterious and tender notion. How the Music Came to My Father is also a terrific poem. The poet leads us gently through what feels like an almost sentimental narrative about his father until the last two lines of the first stanza, then POW! The image of the “passed-over / father down the street pulled his belt from his pants / and went looking for his boys,” and we are into different territory. There are some lovely images and beautiful rhythms in Kindly Give Up, as well. I especially like the place where the poet slows way, way down, with the “Once upon a time / cows stood.”

 

  • How the Music Came to My Father – I love the details of the neighborhood, and the image of the unexpected gifts temporarily displayed by a temper-driven character given to whippings and casual cruelty (“never said this is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you”), but there’s a playful cynicism to the piece “whoever it was who fixes God’s mistakes” and the “band of accidental squeeze box angels” in heaven. The narrator has moved beyond self-pity and blame. I like it a lot. I also like the finger of God moving and making a mistake. Picked my father instead of the guy a few houses down, almost questioning your memory. Write 50 Times – my all time favorite poem in the batch! I have long decried the stupid punishment writing scenario, and the teacher bullying syndrome that accompanies it. The assumptions implicit in many dumb assignments, when challenged, meet with blank-faced stares and incredulity among most poor teachers. Great one! The voice meanders about like a very bright, respectful, passive aggressive rebel!

 

  • “The strength of these poems is in the narrative voice that works through them, the things the poet’s eye sees and reports on, the vivid, often punchy imagery.”

 

  • Chewing Gum is nonsense. The language is not consistent. Voice changes. As do the voices in the other poems.

 

  • How the Music Came to My Father — funny and sad. I like the casual inclusion of the father’s name (Glenn), and the opening image of the accordion play is precise and perfectly detailed. The second stanza introduces complicated feelings toward Glenn as he goes back to his old ways but is still remembered fondly after he dies, even getting the chance to go to heaven. A lovely and memorable poem.”

 

  • How the Music Came to My Father: The “miracle” of the speaker’s reprieve from his father’s fierce punishment is extremely well dramatized in this poem. The bewildering and incongruous image of the father divinely inspired to play the accordion I find believable—perhaps the only explanation given his brutal nature. The accidental and transitory aspect of this musical conversion is poignantly captured by the contrast to the “passed-over / father down the street”. That this “cosmic error” is bound to be corrected also feels true given our flawed human nature. Finally, the fact that the speaker imagines his father playing “Leaning on Everlasting Arms” up in heaven is a fine touch, an appropriate coda to a piece about unexpected mercy—one that we (all human beings) have the great fortune to expect will this time endure. Borrowings – I like the metaphor of a lending library as a resource for a young woman to learn of the paternal love she apparently never received. The images may be of books but you make it clear that the wisdom being offered here is spoken—“anecdotal”, “bound to say” which makes the connection much more personal and immediate. The ending is fairly heartbreaking with its “sorry” and “goodbye”, and by putting “loved” in the past tense. But I think it is very true to the kind of regret we all feel regarding the mistakes we make with each other.”
  • “In How Music Came to My Father there is a grand mix of pain and beauty that’s woven together wonderfully. The “cosmic error” and its subsequent correction tells so much to the reader with few words. In Borrowings – the loss of a father and daughter relationship is felt most keenly and is beautiful painful in its longing. Love the idea of borrowing the ideal dad/daughter and “someone has written these books because someone needs them”.

 

  • “I absolutely loved Write 50 Times! It reminded me of how many times I have heard that! This poem was both poignant and funny!”

 

  • How the Music Came to My Father – very purposeful line breaks here, ending and beginning pointedly. The contrast between an accordion player and an abusive father is sharp and makes this very memorable, and I like how you linger on the image, not missing the opportunity for humor (the humor you lace into the more serious matter in all off your poems is perhaps the most striking of all).”

 

  • “I like your rhythm and the accessibility of your prose. i would prefer to see you read this – it feels much more spoken word than it does page poetry.

 

  • “Comments: I like the overall story-telling manner of your poetry, especially the first poem and the allusions to Myron Floren and to Leaning on the Everlasting Arms…nicely done. Kindly Give Up – reads like a song…very nice Borrowings – an interesting concept – a library where one could borrow incidents… Write 50 Times – a valiant effort at a list poem – am curious if you left out some numbers on purpose, or did you forget them?”

 

  • Kindly Give Up was a unique view of the elderly through their bus seats. I had never thought about it from that perspective, and I found your take was poignant in its beautiful and well written prose. Borrowings – another unique viewpoint and I loved the thought that “someone has written these books because someone needs to read them.” I loved the idea that books give us a borrowed life, and I can absolutely relate to that; thank you for putting into words what so many people feel, this was brilliant. Write 50 Times had my husband and I both laughing in our chairs. This was brilliant and I was eager to share it with my mother, who is a teacher. Absolutely this poem was fabulous and I hope you write more witty humor.”

 

  • Write 50 Times made me laugh out loud! It is really clever and full of personality. This would be a great poem to read loud or even to use in a poetry slam. I also enjoyed Borrowings. These are very imaginative poems.”

 

  • How the Music Came to my Father – pretty amazing. Kindly Give Up – yes, not just “they or them,” but all of us, eventually. You wrote this so well, it kept me interested, but depressed. Oh well. Borrowings – excellent job! Great first line! This has a natural pull, you forget you’re reading as you begin to see the words become the things, and the words disappear. Did that make sense? Hard to explain. But awesome! Write 50 Times – who would’ve thought this could be a poem? It was perfect, I needed some humor by now and this was killer! Really enjoyed your work!”

 

  • How the Music Came to My Father centers on the sights & sounds & especially emotions of “some nickering old-world polka” played on an accordion — but the magic moment ends & “The cosmic error was corrected eventually by / whoever it is that fixes God’s mistakes.” Kindly Give Up is a beautiful meditation on the simple but sincere kindness that is due to those we encounter — on a bus, say — who may be old or infirm but “Where they have been you are going. / Where they are going you are also going.” In much the same spirit, Borrowings imagines library-like transactions of the heart: “I will be your father if you’ll be my daughter.”

 

  • “You have an approachable tone of voice. These poems are easy to connect with and enjoy. You make the everyday seem grander.”

 

  • “Loved Kindly Give Up. Great imagery!”

 

  • “I love the lyricism of these poems. They are diverse in subject but extremely well written. I feel connected to the poet and interested in each of the stories being told.”

 

  • “My favorite poem of the group was Borrowings. I loved how authoritatively you began…”Here is the imaginary library where you can borrow a father—a book you didn’t finish.”

 

  • “I really enjoyed your first poem, so vivid and simultaneously light-hearted and serious. Thanks for sharing your work!”

 

  • “All enjoyable. Kindly Give Up was unexpected when you just read the title, it more of a praise of the elderly, a call really to honor them in a way that was nicely put.”

 

  • How the Music Came to My Father: The more I read this poem, the more I love it.”