As If is available from your local bookstore, or from on-line vendors
such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Russ Kesler's previous book of poems is A Small Fire (Pecan
Grove Press). His poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Connecticut
Review, Southern Humanities Review, and many other
journals. He teaches in the English Department at the University of
Central Florida where he is poetry editor of The Florida Review.
600 Overbrook Dr
Nicholasville KY 40356
Russ Kesler’s new book of poems, As
If, opens with an expansive image of a “Hawk high over the gorge,/ its shadow touching/ the pale green of leafing trees ...” and in that image one begins to be drawn into a clear and expansive vision. Here is a poet who combines thought and feeling naturally, who sees with tenderness and precision the beauty and the transience of the world we inhabit.… in poem after poem Russ Kesler gives us the details of a life keenly observed, intensely imagined and freshly presented, a life in which it becomes hard to draw the line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.|
—Greg Pape, author of American Flamingo
Although the title points to the suspension of disbelief, Russ Kesler’s
As If could equally be called Now, the ground note sounded throughout this lovely book.… In the company of these poems, one feels oneself to be among those for whom, as Bashō put it, “everything they see is like a flower and everything they imagine is like the moon”—which is to say that in the world of this book where the present is shadowed by history and mortality, beauty and light still have a place. In part, because of their leanness, these poems exude the “sweet release” of work engaging the whole self, like wood split and carefully stacked “so the pile will stand.”
—Debra Kang Dean, author of Precipitates
Russ Kesler’s poems, for all the earth and vibrant life that’s in them, can seem like fragile things though that’s wrong.
As If accrues real force from quietness and closest observation—page after page,
the generosity, the surprise, the humanity, the tough realization, the gentlest new understanding, all in poems that unfailingly do honor and pay reverence to this great art.
—Philip F. Deaver, author of How Men Pray
From the Book —
My Mother Reports from Heaven
just wanted you to know I’ve arrived.
I don’t remember much about the journey
except that it was pleasant. A woman
I traveled with said she hoped to find
her husband. I haven’t seen her since,
but all the folks I’ve met have been real nice.
It’s quiet here—no choirs of angels,
no heavenly host. We go about our days
The reason that I write
is just to tell you that I’m fine. My breath
comes easy now, the air is sweet. I know
you worried so about me, in that bed.
I’m sorry that I told you I was frightened.
I was, of course. Toward the end, someone
said the Twenty-third Psalm in my ear.
I knew that voice and couldn’t seem
to place it. But it helped.
I thought that I’d
have more to say when I started this.
There’s really no such thing as news up here,
if I’m above you, the way the Bible
had it. I thought I’d miss you, but I don’t.