Popular Music


Popular Music


by Kelly Schirmann
Softcover / 160 p. / Poetry
ISBN: 978-1-939568-15-1

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A meditation on messages, Popular Music asks: how does art make itself heard? The poems of Kelly Schirmann’s debut full-length collection offer a unique voice, investigating the spaces between—between the singer and the audience; the lyrics and the message. Like a pop song, these poems encourage and distract, inviting the reader and listener in, wanting to tell you things that seem intimate, while telling them to everyone. They want to know: is anyone listening? And reader, we hope you are.


Popular Music is both a love letter to music—how it accents, affects, and defines us through varying stages of our lives—and a hilarious and heart-breaking investigation of our relationship to technology, nature, and country. This book is in a class of its own and is simply unforgettable.

The Chicago Review of Books, Best Poetry of 2016

What an elegant sacrifice it is to be in love" with a book like Popular Music, one that drags you into and out of a world you forgot before you were born and then asks you to wake up and grow yourself alive. I don't know how to describe Kelly Schirmann's poems in a way that feels exactly right, to move inside the "empathy fire" or talk back to the many versions of myself that this book shines its light on. How do I talk back when I have been so lovingly split apart? Hers is a generous mind with an explicitly wild and playful vision, agitated by the expanse of her own belief and willfully undone by the heft of her love—for you, for every other, for the planets not invented yet.

—Emily Kendal Frey, author of Sorrow Arrow

There’s solace in these poems, and redemption, in waking up along the shore dripping wet as a new animal, scrambled by the ominous birthing light her poems insist and reflect. But they don’t augur, and aren’t hope, but stretch and wail like an immense sky, momentarily, obscuring the void from us. She does this by lifting flowers out of her skull, which is to say beauty from death, or art from meaninglessness.”

—Jon-Michael Frank, author of Here It Is My Beautiful Fucking Heart (El Aleph Press), Diana Ross & The Supremes (Black Cake Records), and How's Everything Going? Not Good (forthcoming from Ohio Edit / Cuneiform Press).