Photo by O. Lee Reed
Clela Reed is the author of seven collections of poetry: Books: Dancing on the Rim (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2009) and The Hero of the Revolution Serves Us Tea (Negative Capability Press, 2014), Or Current Resident (Aldrich Press, 2019). Chapbooks: Bloodline (Evening Street Press, 2009), Of Root and Sky (Pudding House Publications, 2010), Word Bully (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and Silk (Evening Street Press, 2019). She has had poems published in The Cortland Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Atlanta Review, The Kentucky Review, Valparaiso Review, The Literati Review, and many others. When not traveling or shooing deer from her yard, she lives and writes with her husband in their woodland home near Athens, Georgia.
Winner of the Helen Kay Chapbook Prize for Silk and the winner of the 2020 Georgia Author of the Year Chapbook Award
Silk by Clela Dyess Reed
Clela Reed has created a chapbook that not only educates the readers but haunts us in reflection. She has skillfully woven history, facts, family, and even a speculative future into a tight collection clothed in the fabric of silk. The poems possess an almost three-dimensional quality, pulling the reader into its softness and its strength, and by the end, one feels wrapped in the collection’s cocoon. From the parachutes of war to the scarf that ended Isadora Duncan’s life, the reader of Silk will never think about this subject the same way again.
From the back cover:
Clela Reed’s chapbook Silk is as captivating and strong as silk itself. At times ephemeral, at times sturdy, Reed weaves history, myth and dream in poems that lead the reader on a journey from Ancient China to the battlefields of WWII and beyond. Silk teaches us the dark mysteries of creativity’s cocoon, opening to the light of “what […] shimmers and becomes a poem.” —Julia Caroline Knowlton author of the Café of Unintelligible Desire and the forthcoming One Clean Feather
Like a bolt of fabric unrolling, each one of these poems scrolls from one to the next, “one long sigh of truth / which in time unfurls.” The epigraph of the first poem, “With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown” could be an epigraph for the entire book, as each poem unfolds into the next one, the whole becoming more than the sum of its parts. Reed is obsessed (in a good way) with silk and its various uses, from parachutes to biomedical batteries. She treats her subject in a variety of forms (pantoum, ghazal, villanelle), but always keeps her eyes on the luminous thread, spun from unraveled cocoons:
“Silk. Say it again and again,
and yards of shimmering fabric,
undulations of light,
rivers of color in shades of jewels
slip over your shoulders,”
—Barbara Crooker, author of The Book of Kells and Some Glad Morning
In the poems of Silk, Clela Reed offers a fascinating view of the history and cultural importance of silk through the ages, interwoven with personal details and insight. Her poems reflect an astonishing range of poetic forms, a fine sensitivity to the economic aspects of silk, the wealth and power it signifies, and its adornment of the human form. —Hugh Ruppersburg, author of books and articles on American literature and film and editor of the Georgia Voices literary anthologies.
Bloodline by Clela Dyess Reed
These are powerful and lucid poems, alive with true sentiment, but never sentimental, about that inexhaustible . . . subject: family. ―Thomas Lux, winner of Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, author of God Particles (2008)
Clela Reed has many stories—folksy, sensuous, arresting: her father listening to clouds, her mother in dementia where ―within her walls all seasons blur.‖ Such moments come with a vivid context of the physical world. ―Linda Taylor, poet, professor of English, Oglethorpe University
The warm bloodline in these twenty-six poems extends not only to family—pioneer ancestors, ailing parents, siblings, husband and sons—but also to her Southern homeland, victims of Pompeii, characters from Little Women, trees and flowers and birds. . . ―Therese L. Broderick, prize-winning poet, workshop leader, author of Within View