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Brooklyn author releases poetry collection

Brooklyn BookBeat

February 11, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn-based writer Kate Farrell. Photo by Robert Blumberg
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Kate Farrell, a Brooklyn-based writer, has recently released a poetry collection titled “Visiting Night at the Academy of Longing.” The book treats readers to a metaphysical trek through “the cosmos behind the forehead.”

The itinerary reprises Farrell’s childhood plan to run away with her sister to an elusive blue forest — and spans a visit to an island where bodies are optional, an afterlife reading where T. S. Eliot recites his revised “Four Quartets and a scheme to “catch and train/the birds to catch and train us.”  

In the wake of her young husband’s suicide, Farrell wonders whether Keats’ “truth of imagination” can tell her children why life is worth living. Her poetry would seem a force in that direction. Indeed, her “yen to get at the otherworldly” yields a collection that almost amounts to a “unified theory of love, death and poetry,” while swapping “old/North stars for new” and remaining “faithful [in Dickinson’s dictum] to mystery.”

All in all, the dream-like “academy” of the title could stand for the book itself, its curriculum of loss and longing, a lens for our own.

Farrell grew up in Southern Pines, N.C. After the death of her first husband, she moved with her two small children to New York to complete a literature degree at Columbia University. There she studied with the poet Kenneth Koch, who would become a frequent literary collaborator.

Of her seven books, two were co-written by Koch, including “Sleeping on the Wing” and “An Anthology of Modern Poetry with Essays on Reading and Writing,” a handbook widely used in high school and college classrooms.

Farrell has taught writing at Columbia University and in the New York State Poets in the Schools Program, and she acted for a decade with the New York Art Theater Institute. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Hudson Review, Harvard Review, Manhattan Review, Partisan Review, Mississippi Review, Image and other journals and her work was chosen for three editions of Best Spiritual Writing.


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