Brigit Pegeen Kelly was one of America’s most strikingly original contemporary poets. Born in Palo Alto, California, Kelly received some of American poetry’s most prestigious honors, including a Discovery/the Nation Award, the Yale Younger Poets Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. In poems that frequently turn nature into a kind of myth, Kelly exposes both the glory and menace of animal and human life, birth and death, stasis and change. Over three books, she created a style at once richly imagined and emotionally complex. Praising Kelly’s work, poet Carl Phillips noted that “her poems are like no one else’s—hard and luminous, weird in the sense of making a thing strange, that we at last might see it. Kelly’s later work won praise for its stark, even shocking, portrayals of evil and transcendence. Kelly taught at various colleges and universities, including the University of California-Irvine, Purdue University, Warren Wilson College, and the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She died in 2016.
—Poem from Song, BOA Editions, Ltd., 1995