cover image Blood Feather

Blood Feather

Karla Kelsey. Tupelo, $18.95 trade paper (105p) ISBN 978-1-946482-41-9

In her highly imaginative fourth collection, Kelsey (A Conjoined Book) presents the interior monologues of three female characters. The first is an actress who struggles to differentiate what is real from what is character or persona. She feels her world is constructed on artifice: “and rain has/ a way of showing costumes for/ what they really are those diamonds are/ rhinestones and my waist measures 17/ inches because of pills shapewear and/ cigarettes.” Kelsey astutely poses questions on identity: Is there an intrinsic self, or do we only exist through our relationships to others? The second woman feels defined by her husband’s successful career as an architect. Though she may be his “muse,” his work becomes something tangible in the world while her own philosophical reflections remain ethereal: “while the/ husband referred to across texts as/ master as genius as star fuses/ with concrete steel and glass I/ become thought dispersed.” She is consumed by thoughts of Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird, and the concept of molting becomes a rich analogy for personal evolution. In the third section, which is the most abstruse, a film director meditates on the legacy of Ukrainian American experimental filmmaker Maya Deren. Kelsey’s speakers are original and distinct, fueling a discussion of artistic expression through a feminine lens. (Oct.)