Robert Kelly is an extremely prolific author and poet, who at this time, has created more than 50 volumes of poetry, along with novels that have accumulated a cult following. He's been the poet-in-residence at several colleges, including Bard, Yale, Tufts and the California Institute of Technology.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Samuel and Margaret Kelly, on September 24, 1935. He attended CUNY and Columbia University. In the 80's he developed an interest in Buddhism and says on the subject;
"I sensed in Buddhism a way to avoid hurting people. If there's one doctrine I would like my students or my friends or my enemies to acquire, it's the sense of reverence, reverence toward everything until proven otherwise."
I like him as an poet, simply because reading him is like being in his work. I feel the message, and it seems to strike some chord inside me. His poem below 'A Poem for Easter' is the only one besides Jabberwocky that I've ever managed to memorize and and actually remember!
I particularly like these two poems I've included, but have no recommendations as to his books, never having read them.
Then I came to know it all
fernbake & morning glory tilted
trumpet to heaven, lust hibiscus
battering the wall. The green all
to know with my red mind full
of the rhapsodies of language bare or vested
the mere reach of this rich as-is.
Reality is escape. The rusty junk
of fervent highways soothe the mind
into self-consoling slumber. The real
real is intimate, hard to find,
locked & released at once in thought,
beyond the touch of poignant imagery.
Old men have syntactic minds.
Here winter is stored against delusive
solstice calms & small pink flowers.
Against deceitful resurrections.
This time does not come again.
Source: "Sixteen Odes by Robert Kelly". Black Sparrow Press
A Poem For Easter
All women are beautiful as they rise
exultant from the ruins they make of us
and this Woman
who lies back informing the sheets
has slain me with all day love and now
keeps vigil at the tomb of my desire
from which also she will make me rise
and come before her into Galilee
Rising I fall
and what does her body matter
except it is a darkness sabbath
where the church - our bodies
everywhere come together
kindles one small light
from the unyielding flint
the radio messiah
that my redeemer liveth
and he shall stand in the last days
up from this earth
O love this hour will not let me name
They say I will make
a sexual mystery of your passion
whereas we know
to aprehend one another mystery
as the lovers
astonished eyes come open in his coming
to find that he is not alone
Source: Notes from a poem explication I did years ago.
says; re Robert Kelly : Robert was the teacher for a poetry workshop I was in at Bard college. At that point (1995) he'd been teaching there for years and years, and I believe he may still be there. His voice was mesmerizing at its best, though it was sort of amusing to speculate over the origin of that british-ish accent. He knows many things about many things ,especially (of course) language and the naming of places people and things.