Best Poet: Janea Kelly

We’ve seen Janea Kelly on the bill for poetry readings more and more over the last year—most recently at Fields Fest and a couple of house shows, and then of course there’s Tender FM which she co-hosts with Anna K. Crooks (see Best Poetry Series). Kelly contains multitudes as a poet and performer, with a style that tends to float around short-story-prose with a lot of emphatic lyrical repetition, and in these pieces, we hear about bodily pain and beauty and loyalty and loneliness, along with, still, a heavy fondness for certain places and people in her life—always bold and vulnerable and often finding a way to be funny, too. And other times she cuts straight to the bone, turning pain into something resonant, and powerful, which is maybe the best thing you can do with it: “Want to be so tender that you’ll fear touching me too much, you’ll fear hurting me. Want to be so tender I’ll come with a sign ‘Keep off the Girl’ and it’ll only make you want me more.”

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