Dore Kiesselbach’s first collection, Salt Pier, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and contains work chosen for the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and Britain’s Bridport International Writing Prize in poetry. Kiesselbach has published poetry and prose in many magazines and anthologies, including AGNI, Antioch Review, FIELD, Plume, and Poetry.
Dore Kiesselbach’s second collection Albatross views the events of September 11th as a physicist might examine high-energy particles in a supercollider. In the book’s central section, Kiesselbach, who worked three blocks from the World Trade Center and was an eyewitness, deconstructs the cultural hyperbole of that extraordinary day in a series of intimate portraits that dovetail elsewhere with a wider examination of violence in the everyday lives of individuals, families, and nations. While neither blaming victims, nor succumbing to despair, the book urges reflection on the roles we each play in our own harm. Like its namesake, the human-powered aircraft flown across the English Channel in 1979, Albatross invites readers to push forward into headwinds—public and private—and make for the far shore.
“Emotionally direct and visually all alike in column-shaped free verse, the poems in this debut from the Minneapolis-based Kiesselbach open up to show startling verbal skills, intellectual depths, and sensory complications. ‘Beach Thanksgiving’ wheels from seaside scenes into one, then another, sad memory: ‘Fire’s an assortment of sparks down the beach/ beside which your new family cooks./ Asked to bear a ring,/ you pulled and pulled at your hair.’ For an elderly mother, once a gardener, ‘Joy’s bolted/ in her face to sorrow/ like a pair of shears.’ Marital love in the present (Kiesselbach has a particular talent for love poems), what looks like abuse in the past, the cycle of green growing things, the cold of the north, and the warmth of the animal world all inform these investigations of confession and its discontents, of commitments given and withheld, sometimes through stark life story but more often, in a wonderful involution, through symbols contemplated at short remove—in turkeys, for example, whose unlikely dignity rebukes human discontents: ‘In fall’s/ ballroom they bow/ and straighten, straighten,/ bow, and finish/ with a salad course.'”