Louis McKee Poems

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Louis McKee
Louis McKee (b. July 31, 1951, Philadelphia, PA) has been a fixture of the Philadelphia poetry scene since the early 70s. He is the author of Schuylkill County (Wampeter, 1982), The True Speed of Things (Slash & Burn, 1984) and eleven other collections. More recently, he has published River Architecture: Poems from Here & There 1973-1993 (Cynic, 1999), Loose Change (Marsh River Editions, 2001) and a volume in the Pudding House Greatest Hits series. Gerald Stern has called his work “heart-breaking” and “necessary,” while William Stafford has written, “Louis McKee makes me think of how much fun it was to put your hand out a car window and make the air carry you into quick adventures and curlicues. He is so adept at turning all kinds of sudden glimpses into good patterns.” Naomi Shihab Nye says, “Louis McKee is one of the truest hearts and voices in poetry we will ever be lucky to know.” Near Occasions of Sin, a collection issued in 2006 by Cynic Press, has been praised by Brendan Kennelly: “I really admire, and like, deeply, Louis McKee’s poems. They have two qualities I love – clarity and candour. And they often tell stories even as they evoke mysteries of being. And they engage a great deal with people. “The Soldier,” for example, is stunning for its pure drama. Then, he is a moving, complex love-poet, at once passionate and reserved. McKee’s poems are like flashes of spirit rooted in the body. He never hides behind, or in, obscurity. Near Occasions of Sin is utterly unpretentious because his genius (I think he has that) is so real; “I am content with this,” he says at the end of “Failed Haiku,” and this readiness to be himself, in all his complexity and simplicity, is, I think, the basis of the appeal of this most unusual and attractive book. Sometimes, McKee talks to his reader and it is like talking to a next-door neighbor (that’s what I mean by candour in these poems). Also, they sound like songs at times – winged, humane, vulnerable.”

We used to pride ourselves
on the words we knew.
The dictionary sat beside us
but was... [read poem]
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