Karla Kelsey Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary

Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary

Ahsahta Press, 2006: Winner of the 2005 Sawtooth Poetry Prize selected by Carolyn Forché

Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary takes flight from Plato’s Theaetetus, in which Socrates tells us that the mind works as an aviary—particles of knowledge fly around, like birds, and the thinker plucks them down to use whenever he or she sees fit. A book-length project in nature and scope, Karla Kelsey’s work pushes against this traditional idea and image of knowledge, investigating the meeting of thought, emotion, and experience by pulling language through variations of poetic and linguistic form.

“‘…to love the world our words made?’ Kelsey builds us a world here as a painter might—based on colors, vivid and free-floating—and she populates that world with birds and gardens and a sense of delicate, indeterminate destruction. And so she rebuilds. This book is a lovely feat, a triumph over eroding forces and the proof that resistance can be graceful, compassionate, and above all, adventurous. We see it in her page arrangements and hear it in her weave of sounds; it runs all through the book and lets us glimpse from time to time ‘through a crack in the sky, the mind.’”—Cole Swensen, author of On Walking On