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cinema muto Cinema Muto

Crab Orchard Open Selection Award winner selected by David Wojahn, (ISBN 0-80932895X).

In Cinema Muto, Jesse Lee Kercheval examines the enduring themes of time, mortality, and love as revealed through the power of silent film. Following the ten days of the annual Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Italy, this collection of ekphrastic poems are love letters to the evocative power of silent cinema. Kercheval’s poems elegantly capture the allure of these rare films, which compel hundreds of pilgrims from around the world—from scholars and archivists, to artists and connoisseurs—to flock to Italy each autumn. Cinema Muto celebrates the flickering tales of madness and adventure, drama and love, which are all too often left to decay within forgotten vaults. As reels of Mosjoukine and D. W. Griffith float throughout the collection, a portrait also emerges of the simple beauty of Italy in October and of two lovers who are drawn together by their mutual passion for an extinct art. Together they revel in recapturing “the black and white gestures of a lost world.”
Cinema Muto is a tender tribute to the brief yet unforgettable reign of silent film. Brimming with stirring images of dreams, desire, and the ghosts of cinema legends gone by, Kercheval’s verse is a testament to the mute beauty and timeless lessons that may still be discovered in a fragile roll of celluloid.

Reviews can be found here, and the book can be purchased here.

Here are three poems from the collection.

film history as train
              wreck Film History as Train Wreck

Winner of the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize, selected by Albert Goldbarth

Film History as Train Wreck was published in 2006 by Center for Book Arts as a letterpress chapbook printed by Barbara Henry in an edition of 100. Signed and numbered.

The book can be purchased here.

chartreuse Chartreuse

A chapbook of new work.

Chartreuse was published in 2005 by Hollyridge Press (ISBN 0-9752573).

The book can be purchased here.

Here are three poems from the collection.

Dog Angel cover Dog Angel

Full of wit, vivid language, and devastating honesty, these autobiographical poems trace the timelines of life forward and backward. In them Kercheval offers a moving examination of the role of family and the possible/probable/hoped for existence of God—and how our perceptions of the divine can be transformed from a kindergartner's dyslexically scrawled “doG loves U” to the ever-present but oft-ignored Dog Angel of the title.

Ranging from a cross-country drive to bury her mother’s ashes at Arlington National Cemetery, to a family vacation in Spain, to an imagined final exam given by her children, Kercheval explores the vagaries of love, loss, faith, grief, and joy with a calm, convincing wisdom that permeates this resonant and wonderful collection.

Dog Angel was published in 2004 by the University of Pittsburgh Press (ISBN 0-8229-5840-6).

Reviews can be found here, and the book can be purchased here.

Here are a few poems from the collection.

World as Dictionary
              cover World as Dictionary

From the powerful and unforgettable opening sequence which recounts, with passionate intensity and uncompromising honesty, the death of a dear friend from cancer; through the wonderful middle poems on the complex pleasures of marriage, motherhood, and family life; to the final meditations on the poets own intractable childhood; World as Dictionary explores the vagaries of love, loss, desire, and will. At times heartbreaking and elegiac, mourning a universe that 'is racing from us / at the speed of light/ and . . . is never coming back,' Kercheval is also unswervingly affirmative, celebrating with her infant daughter (whose word for 'open' expands her world), ‘Ope, ope, ope . . . we live in hope./ My daughter claps her hands. Fierce, intimate, lyrical, profound, and true, World as Dictionary is a beautiful, beautiful book. A book that lives in hope. A book that claps its hands.
Ron Wallace

World as Dictionary was published in 1999 by Carnegie Mellon University Press (ISBN 0-88748-285-6).

Reviews can be found here, and the book can be purchased here.

Piotr Szyhalski, the artist who designed the cover, has his website here.