Though the Word is a Lie by Jill Kelly Koren



  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 72
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: January, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-70-1


These are intense, healing poems of transition and transformation. After the darkness of her mother’s death, the poet returns often to a southern Indiana canyon. In the visionary last nine poems, most notably the lyrical litany of names in “One Year of Wildflowers,” she sings herself through spiritual fog to sunlight beyond. When she finally hears nature’s voice a primal “It’s okay” in the round, I say Brava! —Norbert Krapf

These are the poems I needed to hear when I was 18, 28, and what I’ll need to hear when I’m 80. They’re poems for the grieving and the growing. Doing the sobering hospice-work that’s inherent in accepting your own mortality while still putting in the work to see the ecstatic in the everyday.  Like reading translations Rilke or Neruda poems, the words will leave you in awe of the work they do to convey the ineffable intricacies of existence. Somehow turning the horror of the unknowable to an inside joke between friends. They’re what you’ll learn after staring at the Indiana woods your whole life. They’re what your dead mother says to you in a dream.  And I know because these poems are translations of a language only Jill and I speak. But don’t worry friend, you are already fluent. I’d bet my life on it. In fact, I do every day. —Harlan Kelly

In Though the Word is a Lie, Jill Kelly Koren’s poetry invites us into the eternal nowness of nature, family, love, and loss. In these poems, Koren guides us (often from her bicycle) into canyons, across bridges, and through the textures of the seasons. By observing with her—plants, deer, birds, spiders, ants—we enter dreams in which a suitcase can become a heron, and the present intermingles with the past. Each poem in this collection tenderly embraces a delicate balance of grief and joy. —Heather Jones


The Second Dream

Fire swept the sky
Dipped down and raced
in sheets across the field.

My mother lay nude
across the iron lid
of the old well,
while waves of flame
crested and broke
nearing the house
where I watched
from the window
panic rising in my ribcage
with each advancing
wall of fire.

Come inside, Mother!
I called through the glass,
flames now washing through her.
Finally, I went out
took her hand
and led her in
to find her unharmed,
her body translucent,
the color of ash.


Jill Kelly KorenJill Kelly Koren is the author of The Work of the Body (Dos Madres, 2015) and While the Water Rises Around Us (Finishing Line, 2011). She is the recipient of an Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant and emcees poetry nights at Village Lights Bookstore. She teaches poetry, literature, and writing at Ivy Tech Community College, where she was awarded the 2019 President’s Award for Excellence in Instruction. She lives with her family in Madison, Indiana.

Additional information

Weight 5.1 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in