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Kelly Michels

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Kelly MichelsKelly Michels relocated to Ireland from the United States in 2019 and completed her PhD at UCD. Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Banshee, Tampa Review, Best New Poets and New Ohio Review. She has published two pamphlets, Mother and Child with Flowers (2012) and Disquiet (2015), and has received the Rachel Wetzsteon Poetry Prize from 92nd Street ‘Y’, the Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize and an Academy of American Poets Prize. She lives in Dublin.

American Anthem

‘After spending a week sleeping on the floor / of a crack house she comes home dragging / a heap of bones.’ So begins Kelly Michels’ sometimes shocking debut as the author remembers observing her mother. Blending lyric and narrative modes the dominant strands of American Anthem focus on the tragedies, both personal and national, of the opioid epidemic and its devastating effects of addiction and of gun violence in America where the author grew up.

Drawing on personal experience, in the books centrepiece, a tour de force addressed to the writer’s younger sister, the repeated, repercussive ‘How do I tell her?’ allows us to overhear the harrowing details of an assault by a rapist. Other poems respond to a mass shooting in her home neighbourhood.

This is an urgent, necessary book, a severe indictment of the mammoth pharmaceutical companies and of the merchants and pro-ponents of arms.

Kelly Michels has heeded Robert Lowell’s injunction to ‘say what happened’ and her report is fashioned in a series of remarkable poems.

American Anthem proclaims a new voice in Irish poetry. It is an outstanding, bold and brave first collection.


€12.95 pb
€19.50 hb

American Anthem - Kelly Michels
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