Remembering Brigit Pegeen Kelly, 1951–2016


Brigit Pegeen Kelly was my mentor — a teacher and a friend who had a profound impact not just on my goals as a student but on who I would become, how I would view myself in relation to the world. She was the rare educator who could make you rethink what it was to learn. Her active listening was nearly alchemical; our conversations, at times, felt like a form of magic. Through sheer presence she could make the world new, more real, more full, and more resonant.

It was the kind of enriching that came just in time, not just in my life but as it was contained in a larger era. We talked about 9/11 right after it happened. We talked about the nightvision cameras that captured the first bombs dropping on Baghdad. We talked about the protests, the need for language and for silence. It was the new millennium, the new communication, the new politics, when the future seemed to be suddenly flattened and pressed into full view, when it seemed suddenly switched on. She is the reason I became a poet during this time, and she is one of the reasons why poetry has been so sustained in me through all these years, why it has remained necessary. These past weeks following her death have had me thinking so much about those years, when I could feel the inside of me getting burnished as though worked with invisible hands. . .

Read the remembrance at Michigan Quarterly Review

One thought on “Remembering Brigit Pegeen Kelly, 1951–2016

  1. Thank you writing so deeply about Brigit Pegeen Kelly. Today she seemed very near – so near I missed her — and went looking for her and found your remembrance which was written with such rigor and accuracy and love that she drew nearer. Then I watched the bell being freed from its mold. Thank you I don’t know you but I’m glad you are alive on the planet now . Now I will search for your poems.

    With every warm wish
    Marie Howe

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