Idaho Book of the Year Honorable Mention
"Filled with sometimes stark, sometimes beautiful images of life in these strange times, this book of poems has an underlying message of hope. The book is uncannily timely."
Some would say that we’ve distanced ourselves. We also live in a world where I can have a meaningful relationship with a person I’ve never met in “real life” that lives in a different country, time zone and speaks a different language. When I send a birthday emoji, we both understand what I’m saying. Perhaps we are closer than we realize.
There’s a comingling of technology and mythology, self-care and ritual, all of which creates an original body of work. There’s so much hope in these pieces, while at the same time, it’s underscored by the very real threat of the environmental issues that are currently happening.
This Week, I Read
And in this, there is something of the 1950s American past that she is hitting on. She juxtaposes this war on language with a tone of an earlier time. We are no longer hiding in our bunkers or practicing duck and cover at our schools, but instead we are bunkering down into our apartments, trying desperately to find meaning from technology.
In reading these poems I know I’m being guided by a poet who’s maintained control. These poems are marvelously condensed, and fine attention has been paid to each word.
author of 300 Arguments and Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
Catherine Kyle’s Shelter in Place lyricizes the Cold War between seductive robots and anxious screen-eaters. Come sit in the glow of digital preoccupation; Kyle has planted an uncanny garden of pixels.
Christine Sloan Stoddard,
author of Belladonna Magic and Water for the Cactus Woman
In her collection, Shelter in Place, Catherine Kyle offers unapologetic mirrors and terrifying prophecies; these graceful, imaginative poems are not afraid to look into the deep dark—within and without—into the places we often close our eyes against. Refusing retreat, spurning sanctuary, Kyle’s poetry is interrogatory, seeking answers: if we advocate awareness as a “balm,” especially now “in the age of the image,” how can we stare into the faces of suffering and do nothing? She goes on to ask: “if this world is a story, / what is its moral,” an answer that relies on our acceptance of responsibility as “the sovereign or the heir.” Will we be parent or legacy, liberator or disciple? Kyle reminds us that although we often give in—make deals with crossroads demons, relinquish our “hands” for “gloves,” the “softest kid skin,” take the easy outs—through it all we have a choice; we can choose to be museums, to “make shelters of / our bodies,” to “carry the ghosts / of what is lost.” We can “become custom jobs,” play our parts, save empathy, create change. Even as Kyle’s poetry terrifies and punctures us with worry, it rebels, refusing to relinquish hope, goading us into bravery. Shelter in Place is a warning, a slap in the face, a kick in the ass, a pre-apocalyptic prayer, a guide to action where “agency” equals “lullaby elegy power.”
author of Night Ride Home and Untitled Film Still Museum
In Shelter in Place, Catherine Kyle gracefully captures the voice of a generation unwilling to ignore that it inherited a damaged world, skillfully illuminating what it means to be truly observant and aware in our media-driven culture. Her witty, imaginative poems seamlessly navigate the fragility of our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the earth, reminding us how technology both connects and disconnects us. Shelter in Place is a delightful read, a timely, thoughtful collection.
author of We Don’t Bury Our Dead When Our Dead Are Animals and With Words: Verse in Concordance
With the knowledge that humanity faces probable extinction while most of us are unable, and some unwilling, to prevent it, Catherine Kyle has done the only thing that makes any sense to me: she’s written a book of spells. The poems in Shelter in Place possess the power to galvanize the many witches and warlocks living in our cities, our cyberspaces, and everywhere there are people. I am grateful for the author’s generous wit and willingness to stare unflinching into severe realities. For as long as I continue to live under the gargantuan thumb of capitalism, on hard days this book shall provide a fine complement, and on brighter days an alternative, to despair.”
editor of Cartridge Lit
Catherine Kyle grew up in Seattle and currently lives in Boise. Her other collections include Coronations, Saint: A Post-Dystopian Hagiography, Parallel, Gamer: A Role-Playing Poem, Flotsam, and Feral Domesticity. Her writing has been honored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts, the Alexa Rose Foundation, and other organizations. She is an assistant professor of English at the College of Western Idaho and also teaches for The Cabin. Her website is catherinebaileykyle.com.