The Harvard Review

It was lovely to wake up this morning and find another fabulous review for Inheritance, this time in The Harvard Review:

Instead of aggressively dynamic language, a degree of cool objectivity helps empower Kerry-Lee Powell’s poems. She handles simple and straightforward description with a measured cadence and confident diction:

An old man on a folding lawn chair,
his bald head and freckled hands
reflected in the ornamental pond

with its tadpoles and its muck
and the whirring of the pump
he has spent all day trying to fix.
(“The Encounter”)

Her work draws in the reader with the anecdotal verve of good short stories (she is also an accomplished fiction writer), and transfixes with exacting imagery that surprises not for its imaginative leaps but for its grim precision:

You knew the fires in the vacant lots
might turn you to ashes, but you heaped
the chairs you took from the church hall
watched the smoke twist into hooks
and wondered, who would be king?

Possibly because she’s Canadian, and detached from the aesthetic tensions of the American MFA world, her poetry shows none of the inclinations toward sentimentality, identity angst, or experimental urgency that afflict those of us below the forty-ninth parallel. It’s unfortunate that a large blurb on the back cover of her book praises her “dark nostalgia,” since that unbecoming emotion is infrequent in her work.