Ash in the Tree: Poetry Reading with Gillian Kessler

Join us in celebration of Gillian Kessler's latest book of poetry, ASH IN THE TREES.
About the author:
Gillian Kessler can be found dancing to loud music, teaching exuberant teens to appreciate language, writing in the early morning when everyone is asleep and exploring the wilds of Montana with her beautiful family. Gillian studied poetry at Santa Clara University with Edward Kleinschmidt, UCLA Extension with Suzanne Lummis and, more recently, in Missoula under the exceptional guidance of Chris Dombrowski, Mark Gibbons and Phillip Schaffer. Her poems and essays have been published in Mamalode Magazine and she writes frequently for Flapper Press. Her poetry was featured in the anthology, Poems Across the Big Sky Volume II. She has written two collections of poems, Lemons and Cement and the forthcoming, Ash in the Tree.
Book Blurbs:

“Gillian Kessler has the ability to whisper lines like “When is it long enough / to have lived long enough?” into her poems with both conviction and confession. Her work, and this book, pulsate questions that can only be answered once the answer is just out of sight. For Kessler, death is a relationship, a transmitted energy, an obsession replete with more sorrow than fear. She spends time with her images, unfolding them gently, massaging them down the page with grace. These poems ripple through lake water. They are filled with wild horses, hospital smells, and that sort of quiet sadness you can hum to. Kessler finds a way to make you feel things you never knew you were capable of. And once you feel them, it is impossible to return to the day unchanged.”        

-Phillip Schaffer, author of Bad Summon


"Gillian Kessler sings songs of grief, mortality, and matter in a voice that is as tender and attentive as a child reaching out to touch a wildflower. In these earth-touchings, Kessler restores our connection with what we thought had eluded our grasp; in Ash in the Tree, the going and the gone hold hands."                      - Chris Dombrowski, author of Body of Water


"Gillian Kessler's poems wind their way through the garden of grief, unafraid and vibrant. This book is a reckoning, a balm for the broken heart."                             

-Susanna Sonnenberg, author of Her Last Death 


“Wryly funny and infinitely wise, Ash in the Tree is an intimate portrait of the life-cherishing power of grief, from sharing a perfect cocktail with one’s 84-year-old mother to a ‘lemon and cement, roses and exhaust’-scented commute. “When is it long enough/to have lived long enough?” Kessler asks in one poem, offering ‘forgiveness/that’s not accusatory’ in another. Like grace, the reader leaves wishing only for more.”     

                                    -Jeremy Smith, author of Breaking and Entering  


“Reading Ash in the Tree by Gillian Kessler was a profoundly moving experience. I felt the ebb and flow of life and death washing over me and was utterly captivated by the voice of this young mother who loses her hearing and her mother making the connection and devotion between mother and child something desperate and ultimately appreciated for the immortal gift that it is.”                                                       

-Susie Petrucelli, author of Raised a Warrior

Event date: 
Thursday, August 26, 2021 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Event address: 
220 N Higgins Ave.
Missoula, MT 59802-4435