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Poems by Richard K. Kent


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“Readers will cherish these poems; whatever presents itself—weather, seasons, wildlife, photographs, paintings, ancient Chinese poems, memories—is afforded a fierce and loving attention. As a result, the book acquires a cumulative power that is earned, never forced or falsified. This is how a good collection of poems, carefully crafted, should affect us. Richard Kent’s accomplishment is exciting to encounter and rewarding to experience.”

—DAVID YOUNG, author of Field of Light and Shadow: New & Selected Poems

“This collection is rich in diversity, the sensibility gentle and deep, like twilight settling over a landscape. One poem discovers how a ‘drab brown moth’ is, on closer inspection, wonderfully varied in coloration. Kent’s artistic method looks beyond first take to discern the full range of import. The poems are emotional without being sentimental, philosophical without being scholarly. Like some of the Asian poets Kent refers to, we find that a tinge of melancholy hones perception. The self, amidst time and change, can be both ‘bereft but blessed.’ In the face of life’s vastness, including traumas, ‘Nothing to do but to feel one’s way.’ These generous poems offer guidance for how to feel our way to a richer world of meaning and experience.”

—WALKER ABEL, poet and ecopsychologist, author of Deer Hoof on River Cobbles

“There is an intensity of seeing in Richard Kent’s graceful, lustrous poetry that reflects his vocation as an art historian and his avocation as a photographer. There are resonances of his Chinese training as well, not only in his stated homage to Chinese poets, but implicitly in the regularity of his poetic form, and most of all in his relationship with the natural world. Nature is the repository of spirit, and everything in it is interpenetrated and interconnected; thus focus on any one thing—a bird, a moth, a leaf—can teach you everything. As he writes in his ‘Declaration,’ ‘I need to sit at a meadow’s edge just to watch what happens.’”

—CHARLES EGAN, author of Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Zen Monks of China

RICHARD K. KENT is a professor at Franklin & Marshall College, where he teaches courses in Asian art history, Chinese lyric poetry, and the history of Western photography. He received his B.A. in English literature from Oberlin College, and then taught English and English literature at Tunghai University in Taiwan. He studied Chinese art and archaeology at Princeton University, earning his Ph.D. He has published essays about Chinese art and American photography. An award-winning photographer, Kent works in long series of pictures, which sometimes continue for decades, to document the transformation of landscapes and places over time.
Read a Sample
Secret Passage
Cecropia Moth
Fawn at the Cemetery
Bowing Toward Clear Waters