The Ledger of Mistakes by Kathy Nelson
Terrapin Books, August 2023
The poems in Kathy Nelson’s The Ledger of Mistakes explore the complexities of mother-daughter love in the context of a mother’s Alzheimer’s decline and death. Old, unresolved conflicts, the daughter’s recognition of her own mortality, the lifelong desire for an unattainable closeness—these are the pressures that exert their clarifying power in these poems. While the work is rooted in personal experience, it achieves, not journalistic autobiography, but the emotional truth that can arise from poetry. The poems range widely in form: there are sonnets, a pantoum, a villanelle, a rondelet, a triolet, a prose poem as well as more unconventional forms. Kathy Nelson is the 2019 recipient of the James Dickey Award and an MFA graduate of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.
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