Caroline Kessler’s cycle Ritual in Blue embraces a lush intelligence—not just the speaker’s, but also the world’s, to which this speaker responds in like register. These are lyrics of sensual philosophy, piercing perception with apprehension without ever sacrificing either body or mind. What does healing mean, or balance, these poems seem to ask, though those words are never used. These poems are citizens of “the most / developed part of the city no one / is born into.”
—G.C. Waldrep, author of Goldbeater’s Skin, Disclamor, and others
With subtlety and grace, Caroline Kessler celebrates a woman’s body—its endurance and relentlessness, its strength and limitations—and, above all, the innermost feelings a body holds. Is it the spirit? Is it the divine? This poet seeks answers and will travel—to ancient spaces and to Chava, that mythical first seeker. This poet understands the body won’t last forever. Kessler’s poems ask herself and, essentially, humankind, What to make of our time here? Each poem is a step toward something meaningful and maybe even righteous, “…a movement / to get closer / to what is true.”
—Yona Harvey, author of Hemming the Water
Ghosted with song and liturgy, the poems in Caroline Kessler’s energetic chapbook Ritual in Blue are nevertheless rooted in the body, creating potent tension between the poems’ often-intertwined spiritual and physical realms. Here, “palms press blessing[s] into my forehead;” in this chapbook, there is no benediction without touch. Kessler crafts stirring, tumbling poems that connect readers to a divinity too beautifully large for us to catch and keep for ourselves: as with moving water, held and cherished “in the scoop of my dress” only for a moment before we must let it go.
—Rachel Mennies, author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards, the 2014 winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry.