I N C A N D E S C E N T
INCANDESCENT is Kai's third full-length collection of poetry, published by Sibling Rivalry Press June 19th, 2019. It is a book that was written mostly in 2016 and 2017 during the height of the last presidential election, and reflects the chaos and darkness of our current times. Though it reflects that chaos, it strives to offer the reader a bit of hope, a spark of revolution, a call to rise up and stand as warriors against the unraveling of our collective principles of good. The lenses of the work offer both a macrocosm view of the world in its political and social upheaval, juxtaposed with a microcosm view of an inner love story that resonates from her inner world, which provides sanctuary through this storm. The love of a woman. Their home. Their little dogs. Their peace. The narrative arc expands and contracts between these perspectives. “Incandescent” means to “emit light as a result of being heated” … the world is heated, and Kai is projecting her light through these poems, their righteous anger, and the love that will carry us through. She urges, "We must use our light now, when the world needs it the most. We must burn bright."
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What radiating joy I feel reading Kai Coggin’s newest poetry collection. These are poems that bring me back to the heart of poetry. That heal my spirit. In the vein of Joy Harjo, Pat Mora, and Naomi Shihab Nye, these poems build heart homes in the sky, shining their light across the protective nature of the world around us — these poems burn bright. The personal is political, and the political is rendered powerfully transformed; change is possible—Kai sings us toward the possible. These poems enchant me, uplift me; I needed this book as a girl/young woman, and I will be sharing it with my daughter. These are poems fiercely needed in school libraries and anthologies. Through girlhood memory, first dresses and first periods, first two-stepping gay bars and fake IDs, first heart breaks, across oceans, deep in the recesses of our society’s darkest scars, these powerful poems do not shy away from trauma and pain, sexual, cultural, and political; rather, they uncover the wounds to apply salves in their cupped-together hands, with Kai incanting a balm over everything that hurts, saying, 'I could nourish / every thirsty thing with my tears, / my face / an open flower / my heart / the nectar I offer back to the earth.' And even beyond healing and transforming, these magical poems give permission: to love, to be, to sing. To rejoice. This collection is a love-song to women, and I am so grateful for Kai’s gloriously INCANDESCENT voice.
Jenn Givhan, Author of Rosa's Einstein & Girl with Death Mask
Fire—its light and passion, is an apt metaphor for these rich, compelling, and deeply felt poems. It takes its form in many ways in these resonant, powerful, and completely riveting calls for justice, kindness, and attention to those parts of ourselves that illumine the dark we live in today. These are poems that activate every page, with guttural imagery and sure craft of the form. Whether limning the course of a deep love, providing a safe space to children learning poetry for the first time, shouting the proud acknowledgment of the body, or examining the ruins of terror’s aftermath, Kai Coggin proposes—no, urges—that we use that inherent fire within us, to grow not only our own lives, but to illumine and help the lives of others. These are poems of protest and praise, poems of a unique and adamant voice, who shows us what we can hope for, as well as what we can truly achieve in loving one another.
Philip F. Clark, Author of The Carnival of Affections
Kai Coggin’s third volume of poems, Incandescent, burns and blazes the world around us—the one where a father is a 'tall tree of leaving,' the world in which the poet asks, 'How many more mass graves must we dig / with the blunt end of an AR-15'? and the world where, 'boys will be boys will be dangerous men.' But there is hope in this world, too. Hummingbirds are 'flying red jewels,' there are lakes shaped like hearts, and bluebirds teaching their young that falling is only a preface for flying. And there is all of us—all—of—us—rising from the ashes of these pages.
Shaindel Beers, Author of Secure Your Own Mask, Winner of the White Pine Poetry Prize
Written with all the passion and energy that infuses her previous work, Kai Coggin’s Incandescent achieves new heights of awareness. The poet courageously shines her light on a world in pain, and then on the transformations that love earnestly enacts. These are intimate poems, offered with both grit and tenderness, from a poet whose voice resonates with unwavering conviction—poems that are lit from within and have the singular power to both ground and propel the reader to action.
Laura Page, Founding Editor-in-Chief of Virga and author of epithalamium