What We Risk When We Write--

Justin Evans wrote the nicest review on his blog about my book and I wanted to share it here:

Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room by Kelli Russell Agodon is by far one of the most elegant books of poetry I have ever read. I know I have used that particular adjective before, but I really don't think I can over use it in this case. When my students have asked me in recent weeks what I am reading and why I love poetry so much, I tell them about Kelli's book. What's more astounding is that each poem feels completely spontaneous and natural. As you might expect, a lot of the poems in this collection are letters, but they are letters of all types, and not just the type of letter one might think a poets writes. In a strange way, I have begun to look at this book the way I would if I was carrying on an all day conversation with a friend as we went about our day together doing nothing urgent or mandatory---the kind of day you want to re-live again and again.

(Justin also reviews 2 other books, check out his blog here.)
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I cannot tell you how happy, calm, thankful it makes me feel to read something like that.

I remember about a week before October 1st, the date my book was to hit the shelves, I could hardly sleep.  There was this anxiety I felt of knowing my words and poems, what I created was going out to a larger world and that deep fear of "would anyone get what I was trying to do?"

As artists and writers, this is what we always risk.  We have to risk it.

We have to risk that what we create is going to be rejected or misunderstood.  We have to risk that our work will stumble and fall, sometimes climbing the mountain, sometimes rolling down the side.

But we have to risk.  We have to put our emotions onto a raft and set them out.

Some of you may be better at this than me.  Sometimes my emotions are like the paper ghosts flying all around me Haunted House style.  They are peering out the attic window, hiding in the closet, hovering over the bed.  But they are mine.  My ghosts and when they are at their best, they help me create.

At their worst they scare the bejesus out of me.

I try not to let they control me and stay on path.  I have to risk to move forward; it's in the game rules.  And when it works, someone writes an incredible response to my work that keeps me happy for an entire season.  I know that even if someone else doesn't like my work, my book, my poems, I can look back and said, "But I connected with someone here."  And that means everything, ghosts and all...



  1. Congrats on this well-deserved review.

    "My ghosts and when they are at their best, they help me create.

    At their worst they scare the bejesus out of me."

    I COMPLETELY understand. :)

  2. a great post! i linked to it on facebook!

  3. I just finished reviewing your book for Newpages.com--it is so lovely, one of the best poetry books I've read this year!

  4. January-- I know those ghosts well!

    Thanks, Carolee! Saw your Tweet!

    Renee- Thank you! I cannot tell you how much it makes my day to hear that. So glad you like it!


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