Salt Pier (Paperback)
"Emotionally direct and visually all alike in column-shaped free verse, the poems in this debut from the Minneapolis-based Kiesselbach open up to show startling verbal skills, intellectual depths, and sensory complications. 'Beach Thanksgiving' wheels from seaside scenes into one, then another, sad memory: 'Fire's an assortment of sparks down the beach/ beside which your new family cooks./ Asked to bear a ring, / you pulled and pulled at your hair.' For an elderly mother, once a gardener, 'Joy's bolted/ in her face to sorrow/ like a pair of shears.' Marital love in the present (Kiesselbach has a particular talent for love poems), what looks like abuse in the past, the cycle of green growing things, the cold of the north, and the warmth of the animal world all inform these investigations of confession and its discontents, of commitments given and withheld, sometimes through stark life story but more often, in a wonderful involution, through symbols contemplated at short remove--in turkeys, for example, whose unlikely dignity rebukes human discontents: 'In fall's/ ballroom they bow/ and straighten, straighten, / bow, and finish/ with a salad course.'"
About the Author
Dore Kiesselbach was raised in California and studied English and creative writing at Oberlin College and at the University of Iowa, where he held a Javits fellowship. He has published widely, in magazines such as the Antioch Review, Field, New Letters, and Poetry. In 2009, he won Britain's Bridport Prize. Kiesselbach lives with his wife, master gardener Karin Ciano, in Minneapolis.
“Dore Kiesselbach’s poems reveal the particularity and/or strangeness of the commonplace—but many good poems do that. What strikes me about his, though, are the ways that visual imagery, diction, and cadence are modulated to fit his subjects. Thus in ‘Rake’ the inanimate object speaks (as in an Anglo-Saxon kenning) to describe the way it touches ‘death / that life may be revealed / in green stupidity . . . fluent / as underwater hair.’ In ‘Hickey,’ a diver swimming among stingrays asks, ‘How long does it take us / in water sunlight permeates / to forget needing ever to be told?’; the unusual diction suggests both the speaker’s suspension in water as well as his apprehension of joy. The reader may hear faint echoes of Hopkins or the early Dylan Thomas, but the language is Kiesselbach’s own.”
“I have followed, with pleasure, Dore Kiesselbach’s sinuous poems for several years. Some of them remind me of pythons wrapped around a tree limb above a riverbank. Those make me nervous. Others remind me of a favorite shirt, a shirt one will never relinquish, never. His poems, each one a tiny defibrillator, are a wonder.”
“Such perfected attention to these nimbly alert, plainspoken poems, which go quiet where many go loud! Encyclopedic, from augers to monarchs to wild turkeys and witch trees, they leave ‘hoofprints’ on the mind. Kiesselbach keeps his eye (‘the predominant poet’s organ,’ William Carlos Williams said) on the unfolding, shifting mysteries crisscrossing our tracks, only teaching what he knows, outing speculative imagination; helping us ‘to let go.’”
“As the diver beholds ‘a moon dissolved in salt,’ so we behold the world transformed in these elegant, rigorous, unsparing poems by Dore Kiesselbach. With the problem-solving logic of syntax, a turkey falls dead from a tree, the duelist’s bullet turns a pocket watch to shrapnel, a stepfather works his world of harm. Morally acute and musically distillate, this is a book to celebrate.”
[Kiesselbach's] an opera singer who holds a note without becoming breathless. Kiesselbach has a stunning way to make the poetic phrase change meaning, and make better each line before and after. A trope that depends on syncronicity is not achioeved/arranged by accident. His poetry is filled with green growing things, animals, nature's observances—and because of line lengths—a constant tension."