Remembering Brigit Pegeen Kelly, 1951–2016

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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

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