- THE DOROTHY HEWETT AWARD
Poor Man's Coat: Hardanger Poems
Christopher Kelen has the rare gift of a voice that feels effortlessly, mesmerizingly, unique. In a freezing landscape where birds are ‘scribbles’ over a ‘fjord like laid paper’ and ‘the heart is cloud adrift’, his phrases sprout like new leaves in the warmth of spring. Poor Man’s Coat is a delight: a fresh and haunting mix of deep meditation, witty intelligence and the abundant wonder of poetry’s ‘wise surprise’.
- Jean Kent
This collection marks another level of attentiveness in Kelen’s work. His poems have always delighted with their wordplay, cryptic lyricism and wry wisdoms. Now he moves closer still to the natural world that so absorbs him, close enough to smell its breath, to comprehend its agency.
- Judy Johnson
Ålvik – setting for the poems in this book – is a sleepy little industrial town, set between the Hardanger Fjord and its own little mountain for climbing. Behind Ålvik the serious mountains go on forever, all the length of Norway, till there’s almost no more north. The town is brightly painted and decorated with laughter – a children’s town, if you remember. The artists and the poets, the singers, the musicians – they live in a fairytale house, where winter is always coming, even when it has arrived. But spring is pressing too, and summer is an open book, where the blue goes up forever and a day will never end. The forest is the poor man’s coat. Step in – let other worlds elapse. Read the leaves as they lie fallen. Follow the trail of light.