The Renunciations: Poems

The Renunciations: Poems

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An extraordinary collection of endurance and transformation by the award-winning author of Bestiary


The Renunciations is a book of resilience, survival, and the journey to radically shift one’s sense of self in the face of trauma. Moving between a childhood marked by love and abuse and the breaking marriage of that adult child, Donika Kelly charts memory and the body as landscapes to be traversed and tended. These poems construct life rafts and sanctuaries even in their most devastating confrontations with what a person can bear, with how families harm themselves. With the companionship of “the oracle”—an observer of memory who knows how each close call with oblivion ends—the act of remembrance becomes curative, and personal mythologies give way to a future defined less by wounds than by possibility.


In this gorgeous and heartrending second collection, we find the home one builds inside oneself after reckoning with a legacy of trauma—a home whose construction starts “with a razing.”

Title:The Renunciations: Poems
ISBN:9781644450536
Format Type:

    The Renunciations: Poems Reviews

  • Roxane

    Trauma is a hard thing to write about. In stunning poems such as these it requires not only excavation but thinking about how to present what is excavated, artfully. Kelly does that incredibly well he...

  • Jill Mackin

    So much pain in her poems. ...

  • Lyd Havens

    Literally breathtaking. ...

  • Ksenia

    I will bear him wherever I am takenand no one will kill him and he will not die. D. Kelly "Self - Portrait with Door"The Renunciations is a follow up poetry collection to Donika Kelly's outstanding ...

  • Crystal

    These stunning poems cover a dark history of abuse but there is hope and renewal in the end."Mounting Dead Butterflies Is Not Hard" was easily the one that left the biggest impression. That "I keep lo...

  • Susie Dumond

    The Renunciations is a powerful ode to resilience and drawing boundaries of the self while recovering from trauma. It’s heartbreaking, but also brings hope in the form of healing remembrance. Donika...

  • K.C. Bratt-Pfotenhauer

    “Even an oracle / cannot choose what or how / to remember.” - The Oracle Remembers the Future Cannot Be Avoided Donika Kelly has done it again, folks. A big fan of her first collection “Bestiary...

  • Taylor

    "I promised no new doors / into my body. // I promised a body free / of fossils buried in the house / like the rings of a tree--" Partial Hospitalization One day, I hope to be able to write poems like...

  • Shannon Wolf

    I'm floored by this collection. Donika Kelly has put together a clear narrative in poetic form - these poems sometimes have the sensibility of a memoir or lyric essay, as they reflect back, and look f...

  • Laura Sackton

    Read my full review here: https://booksandbakes.substack.com/p/...These poems are beautiful and heart-wrenching. There's a lyrical formality to them that makes the surprising twists and turns of langu...