While A Map Towards Fluency might be Kelly’s first poetry collection, it shows an impressive imagination and originality. The poet is both partly deaf and partly Danish, though entirely unable to understand her mother’s native tongue, and she has incorporated both of these aspects of her life into her poetry, which focuses on the power of words and the idea of fluency.
As a Dane myself, I am particularly fascinated with her use of my mother tongue. A Map Towards Fluency includes everything from Danish insults ‘Se, en anden giraf!’ (look at that giraffe!) to declarations of love ‘Jeg elsker dig.’ (I love you). Kelly’s fascination with the Danish language can be observed in the poem ‘Ø’, despite it only incorporating a single Danish word. In ‘Ø’, Kelly talks about her yearning to be able to speak her mother’s native tongue.
I dream of Ø, wishing
it in my blood
as the English sound
that comes so easily, it is thoughtless [.]
The poem also dwells upon Kelly’s difficulties with the pronunciation of the Danish language. It is an emotionally charged poem, full of frustration and dissatisfaction.
Surrounded by a sea of white
Ø is what it means
but I can’t possess
even this small word [...]
This is an excerpt of a review by Maria Sjostrand of Lisa Kelly's A Map Towards Fluency. For more information on Lyall at StAnza21, please click HERE. To read the whole review, go to the DURA webpage.