Brigit Pegeen Kelly Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Brigit Pegeen Kelly is known primarily for her poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s first collection of poems, To the Place of Trumpets, was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by James Merrill. Song was the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets and was a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her third book, The Orchard, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry.

Kelly’s other honors include a “Discovery”/The Nation Award (1986), the Cecil Hemley Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Theodore Roethke Prize from Poetry Northwest (1988), a Whiting Writers’ Award (1996), and the Witter Bynner Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters (1999). She received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2006), the National Endowment for the Arts (2005), the Illinois State Council on the Arts, and the New Jersey Council on the Arts. She was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 2008. Her work has also appeared in five volumes of The Pushcart Prize and in six volumes of The Best American Poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Adcock, Betty. “Six Soloists.” Southern Review 32, no. 4 (Autumn, 1996): 761-777. Extensive reviews of six poets’ new books, including Kelly’s Song.

Babuts, Nicolae. “Reading Poetry: Metaphors as Instruments of Discovery.” Symposium 57, no. 4 (Winter, 2004): 211-229. Applies cognitive theory of poetics to explore the use of metaphors to convey transcendental experiences, including Kelly’s poem “The Orchard.”

Hacht, Anne Marie, ed. Poetry for Students. Vol. 22. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2005. Analyzes Kelly’s “The Satyr’s Heart,” providing context and biographical information on the poet.

Ingram, Claudia. “The Impure and the Sacred in the Work of Brigit Pegeen Kelly.” College Literature 34, no. 1 (Winter, 2007): 52-77. Discusses the divided approaches (devotional versus heretical) to the religious content of Kelly’s work as evidence of her pluralistic “poetics of contamination.”

Kitchen, Judith. “Speaking Passions.” Review of To the Place of Trumpets. Georgia Review (Summer, 1988): 407-422. Review examines Kelly’s early work, finding expression of passion in her poems.

Moldaw, Carol. Review of The Orchard. Antioch Review 62, no. 4 (Fall, 2004): 775. Examines Kelly’s work and finds a “profusion and subtlety of perception.”

Sadoff, Ira. “Trafficking in the Radiant: The Spiritualization of American Poetry.” American Poetry Review 34, no. 4 (July/August, 2005): 11-14. Discusses the current proliferation of religious subject matter in American poetry, including Kelly’s work.

Townsend, Ann. “Arcadia Redux.” Southern Review 42, no. 4 (Fall, 2006): 800-808. Examines how various poets, including Kelly, engage with pastoral tradition and with the Eden myth.

Williams, Lisa. “The Necessity of Song: The Poetry of Brigit Pegeen Kelly.” The Hollins Critic (June, 2002). Provides an overview of the style and themes of Kelly’s work.