Lucifer, Ismene, Alexander the Great, “an obscure Civil War hero,” a Florida railroad, “the dead middle of Mississippi,” an apron swaying and twisting on a clothesline—with these figures and images, as well as with letters and visits, memories and dreams, Kelly Rowe enables us to assemble a story that can’t be told directly, to compose a picture that can’t be faced head-on. And the limpid diction and confiding tone of Rise above the River both soften and strengthen a narrative voice that finds many ways to tell the ineffable.
—Rachel Hadas, author of Pandemic Almanac
In this haunting book of poems, a sister remembers her younger brother, who as a child seemed always to emit a golden light to match his golden boy-soprano voice. Adventurous, imaginative, a lover of trees and water, he was more Huck Finn than angel. Then, as Randall Jarrell once observed, something went wrong. Could it have been innate or could it have been, as the poet suspects, the ill attentions of one of her brother’s teachers, a woman who was never properly called out for her abuse? The lyrical reminiscences of the older sister, as she watches her brother grow in his estrangement, his greed, his inability to feel for others, contrast painfully with these aspects of his life and character.
This is a beautifully written book about a man whose fall is irredeemable. The mystery is why. This is a shattering book of poems about lost innocence and beauty.
—Mark Jarman, 2021 Able Muse Book Award judge, author of The Heronry
From personal recounting and reflection to rethinking classical mythology, this collection presents an eclectic, engaging contemplation throughout, underscored by a haunting and often surprising rhyme that ties us doubly to the moment we are reading. In reading these poems, we are so often starkly surprised by the strong, sure leaps—“Snow falling. / Her white feet. / Her aria.” Sometimes quietly and sometimes loudly, these poems lead us into their important mix. The several reconciliations at the end draw these poems into closing, but in their moment they gift us with a persuasive sense of greater connection to things simply and innately significant—underscored by profound feeling.
—Alberto Ríos, author of The World Has Need of You