This powerful little collection—essentially a meditation on reckless self-destruction—is painful and wonderful. Painful in the bone-aching witness of a child for her mother’s long, slow, determined collapse. Wonderful in the miraculous language that Kelly Michels has summoned to record the tortured love of mother and daughter.
--John Balaban, winner of the William Carlos Williams prize, the National Poetry Series, and twice finalist for the National Book Award.
Kelly Michels brings a powerful, brand-new voice to poetry in this slender first gathering. Her song is shadowed indeed, her story burned in place by family addiction, lost childhood, and a poignant recognition of beauty in language and in even the most difficult life. In these poems, moon and stars make regular appearances against galactic longing, bringing their mixed possibilities of distance and light. Part surrealist, part fabulist, part sharp storyteller, Michels has the brilliant touch we remember from Plath's imagery, but rather than sheathed and sealed in fury, these turns and tropes are robed in an almost magical sadness. Mother and Child with Flowers is original, fierce, redeeming, and beautiful in its sorrows.
--Betty Adcock, recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature, the Poet’s Prize, and finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize
Kelly Michels is a brave and haunting poet whose deeply personal work creates what Stevens called “a new knowledge of reality.” Hard-eyed and large-hearted, rooted in her own past, Mother and Child with Flowers is a beautiful, terrifying, redemptive collection--a Madonna tableau woven from barbed wire and jeweled with broken glass.