This is more than just a chapbook of verse–as happy as I am that Blue Cedar Press is committed to publishing contemporary poetry. Kindred Verse certainly is a poetry chapbook, wherein Julie A. Sellers shares poems “Inspired by Anne of Green Gables.”
With poetry in formal and experimental modes, this beautifully designed collection also includes original photographs–especially pictures related to Prince Edward Island, such as the fields, flowers, and lanes that inspired L.M. Montgomery to write Anne in the first place. Sellers also includes personal reflections that help the reader make connections between text and imagination. While the strongest poems stand on their own, the verses and images are in conversation with the eight Anne books by L.M. Montgomery, tumbling out of Sellers’ “decades-long friendship with Anne Shirley.” Rooted in images of home, the natural, and the adventurous imagination, Kindred Verse is a reflection of how Montgomery’s works and the character of Anne have reshaped this artist’s own sense of the possible.
If I were to offer a critique, it would be that I would have liked to see more of Sellers’ prose reflections. The “Preface” is delightful–the story of Sellers’ childhood encounter with Anne–and I have admired some of her other public work (see below). Especially, I would love to see Sellers more fully develop the innate sense of space that she achieves in the deeply imagistic poetry and in her invitational photography. In particular, the importance of home, of landscape, of the journey, of community and place–these things left me yearning as a reader for more connections between Sellers’ windswept Kansas landscapes and the gables and fields of Prince Edward Island that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery and so many other writers and artists. Here is an example of Seller’s prose-poetry at its best:
Overall, I am grateful to Julie Sellers for her work. No doubt Kindred Verse is a project for kindred spirits–a collection that extends the imaginative possibilities and literary friendships that L.M. Montgomery’s fiction brings to the world.
I am pleased as host of the MaudCast, the podcast of the L.M. Montgomery Institute, to be sitting down this week with Julie to discuss her Montgomery-related scholarship and artistry. You can check out Julie A. Sellers’ website here, and she is worth connecting with on Facebook and Twitter (where she has been known to read a poem from time to time).
Julie’s poem, “Windows,” also in Kindred Verse, was published in the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies in 2020 (click here). The Journal has also published two other pieces by Julie–a written paper entitled “‘A Good Imagination Gone Wrong’: Reading Anne of Green Gables as a Quixotic Novel” (which I heard Julie read in 2020), and a paper in video form as part of the 2020 Vision Forum, entitled “Envisioning Kindred Spirits: Anne Shirley’s Imagined Community.” You can expect our MaudCast episode to land in late January or early February!