Kerala Journal is a series of poetic dispatches from the Malabar Coast of India, written between March 2019 and January 2021 by American poet Kim Dorman. The book is inspired by forms of classical Japanese literature, especially the travel diaries of Matsuo Bashō. By focusing on the small, often rhythmic events of daily life, Dorman’s work transfigures the local into the universal. He alerts us to the linguistic discoveries of a poetry in which acts of perception ripple quietly through the individual; a poetry that is therefore attentive to both sensation and reflection.
‘He is Gary Snyder's natural heir — his peripatetic poetry draws from similar spiritual wells to convey momentary awareness of human fragility.’ (C.C. O’Hanlon)
‘You hardly see his hands. He offers you the world.’ (John Martone)
While many of the poems in Kerala Journal are distilled into just a few words, they explore a wide yet intimate gamut of experience: rivers, roads, people, trees, birds, insects, plants and flowers. The changing seasons, phases of the moon and times of day are keenly felt presences. The book itself is suffused with his life-long reading of a wide array of sources: classical Chinese poetry, medieval Indian devotional and philosophical works, the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, William Blake, the journals of Gilbert White and Dorothy Wordsworth, and 20th century American poets William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexroth, Cid Corman, Robert Lax and Lorine Niedecker. The result is nothing less than a modern classic.