Southern Scribe
    our culture of storytelling


 Poetry Review   



History, Passion, Freedom, Death, and Hope:
Prose About Poetry

by Kelly Cherry
University of Tampa Press, 2005
198 pages
Cloth, $20.00 (ISBN: 1-879852-26-8)
Trade paper: $12.00 (ISBN: 1-879852-27-6)


"Poetry is the heart. It is where the work begins and where it returns. All other forms are arterial."
from "The Blood Jet," Kelly Cherry

Intelligent, articulate, and engaging, it's hard to imagine a better book on poetry and poetics than Kelly Cherry's History, Passion, Freedom, Death, and Hope: Prose About Poetry.

Divided into three sections --  "The Poem," "The Poet," and "Briefings," --  Cherry encourages the reader to give serious thought to reading and thinking about poetry. Writing from her thirty years of experience as a writer and teacher, she uses what she's learned as a starting point for a lively discussion of poetics, advice to young writers, and the effects of history, music, and art on poetry.

Fearless in her use of the personal, Cherry blends her love for "The X-Files," tales of the ways in which travel strains romantic relationships, her parents' careers as violinists, and her subsequent life-long love of music to build persuasive, meaningful commentary on the poet's role in society.

"Briefings," a collection of short reviews on contemporary poets, is a wonderful potential reading list as well as a slate of writers whose work may have been overlooked. Generous and gracious, these reviews serve as reminders of why many of us first fell in love with poetry.

Kelly Cherry, who is Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English at the University of Madison-Wisconsin and is currently NEH Visiting Professor in the Humanities at Colgate, is the author of seven books of fiction, six collections of poetry, one autobiographical narrative, and two books of essays.

Copies of this book can be ordered by telephone from the University of Tampa Press (813) 253-6266 or on-line at

Long time fans of Cherry's will be pleased to note -- Cherry's third novel, In the Wink of an Eye, first published in 1983, is back in print as part of LSU's "Voices of the South" series. ( paper, ISBN: 0-8071-2966-6, $18.95).

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews


2005 Southern Scribe Reviews, All Rights Reserved