If Not These Things (Paperback)
-Keith Flynn, author of The Skin of Meaning and editor of The Asheville Poetry Review
In his wonderful new collection, Ken Chamlee asks the enormous questions, chief among them: What is it like, and what is the human cost, to tread on this mysterious earth? Indeed, so many of these marvelous poems are rooted in the natural world-a world capricious with dreams, imminent danger, and wild epiphanies. Nothing escapes the poet's soulful gaze, from the infinitesimal to the grand. In an early poem in If Not These Things, the speaker elegantly inquires: "Can any poem endure / like an ambered ant's / clear vesture?" Chamlee then goes on, poem after memorable poem, to answer unequivocally, resoundingly, Yes.
-Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012-14), author of Light at the Seam
A clear and tender eye for unexpected correspondences which rise, like whales in suburban lawns, from the quotidian, is what Kenneth Chamlee's If Not These Things offers. The poems begin with a vision of the jet stream dipping "down like a gourd, ladling away summer" and go on to find and make meaning in the singular, familiar moments which define every life: sounds of a mysterious animal giving birth in the attic, an elusive pinata, a walk with the dog, the strange dreams which haunt a couple denied children. "And if not these things," the poet asks, "then what / is one day in all / your life?" What indeed?
-Catherine Carter, author of Larvae of the Nearest Stars