One Thing — Then Another: Poems by Claire Kelly is the poet’s second collection of poetry. She lives and writes in Edmonton, Alberta.
The poetry is of contrasts much like the title suggests, and the verse flows across the country of Canada from East to West. The collection opens with a winter scene, but Kelly sets the hook with “Cool Enough to Sink a Ship:”
I wanna be cool the way Patti Smith says
Smith references always make me look a little deeper. This is not just a passing reference but an inclusion of Smith’s first cover “Hey, Joe” and continues with an undercurrent of Smith’s style. At times I was anticipating a chorus of “Horses, horses, horses” as the poet moved west. From there, the poetry contrasts life from observation of squirrels, memories of her father’s stories, and all those things we pick up and carry through life:
So he keeps on hauling.
On his shoulders the straps
digging in, as he carries
another sack full of smithereens,
west and away,
for good and always.
The West comes through in a U-haul ride across the country and an intermission of poetry inspired from a wide range of movies from Them! to Mad Max. Early snow poems are now contrasted by the rain of the West. More than just contrasts, Kelly offers the reader a pleasing flow of poetry when she slips out of prose style and into verse:
More swift ones swoop beyond with gusty strides,
but in neutral disguise, wrinkleless black, navy, grey—
no flashy purple or sick sleet-green,
no totter to their posture, places to go,
colleagues to sway, Nimbostrategic-climber,
with paper in paperclips, highlighters beaconing
the points they’ll forecast.
Kelly’s second collection brings the American reader a look into Canada and a look at one of Western Canada’s rising poets.