Reflective poetry that shows readers a bit of themselves.
The mirror, as a subject, has a long history in world poetry. There’s Shakespeare’s third sonnet: “Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest / Now is the time that face should form another”; there’s also Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror” and John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” whose curved surface “chose to reflect only what he saw.” In debut author Kellett’s soulful, similarly themed “Between the Mirrors,” the title poem of this accomplished new collection, one sees a figure between two reflections: “I can see my profiles before me and behind, / both receding and approaching. / They come from the past and the future— / so many reflections yet to come, / so many having gone before.” In all of these mirror poems, the reflective surface is an apt metaphor for poetry itself; it yields glimpses into a realm of existence somewhere between presence and absence, being and seeming, reality and illusion. Kellett effectively plumbs this liminal space in a number of his verses. In “Memories,” for instance, one sees fleeting images of those one has half-forgotten: “They reappear after a while, and then they’re gone, / slipping out of mind like a jacket tried on in a shop.” Later, in “The Fourteenth of September,” one hears of other mysterious presences: “What is this? It cannot simply be physical / as though dimension and materials are all it is. / Yes it is hefted, shifted and checked to see if it’s true and sound, / but it must be more than that to leave such marks.” Few poets can make such abstractions feel so concrete, but Kellett manages nicely. In “Memories,” for example, he ties those spectral forms to a physical object that’s both familiar and foreign: a jacket that isn’t one’s own. In “Fourteenth,” he pulls off a similar feat but with heavy verbs: “hefted,” “shifted,” and “checked” connote weight and allow him to tie down an otherwise mysterious “this.” His pen is a razor that he pushes through fog, and one can only marvel that it cuts so well.A new collection that’s precarious, bright, and fragile by turns yet never dulls or cracks.