Whisperings: A Short Review of Kelly Richey’s Book of Poetry by Rickey E. Pittman

Whisperings: A Collection of Poems by Blues Guitarist Kelly Richey

Whisperings is the first book of poetry I’ve reviewed in quite a while.  I found Kelly’s poems by serendipity, as often happens when one is looking for something else and suddenly finds the unexpected treasure.  It was Richey’s music that first caught my attention. She is a blues guitarist, one of the hardest working musicians I know of, touring incessantly. She can make her Stratocaster or her acoustic guitar sing or cry to fit the mood of her song, her audience, or her own soul. As I was exploring her site, http://www.kellyrichey.com/home.cfm I discovered she had book of poetry. Here is the description of the book on her website:

This book is a special collection of 89 poems (including companion CD) written by female blues guitarist Kelly Richey. These ultra-personal poems were pulled from over 5,000 writings spanning three decades. The poems deal with finding oneself, relationship struggles, emotional turmoil, the ups and downs of life, vulnerability, survivorship, spirituality, love, lost love, heartache, longing, and passion. 

I think this is a fair and accurate description. I ordered the book and read it in one sitting. I concluded it would be worth rereading slowly, to digest Richey’s insights and observations of life, music, love and herself. The collection is divided into three parts–Pain, Darkness, and Light–with some black and white photography by Sonya Ziegler (who also helped Richey put the collection together) scattered throughout.  I know it’s not unusual for songwriters to be poets, but I was impressed with what I read.  The poems are confessional and autobiographical, but only a small representation of the pieces she’s written over the years.  The book comes with a CD of her reading each of the poems in the book, and like her singing voice, her reading voice can be edgy or soft, sad or venting anger or passion, but it is always reflective and honest.  In “Hard Travelin’ Blues” she says this: “I dare not forget / What this life is costing me / I watch as I run past the pain called fun / My feet they grow tired / and my heart fails me somehow / but I just keep pushing.”

These  lines could be written  only by one who knows how brutal and draining a musician’s life on the road can be.

If you’ve ever thought of turning your own journaling into a book of poetry, you should take a look at what Richey’s done here.  The book is aesthetically pleasing and organized, and the  poetry bites deep into the soul.