Abundance/Diminishment: Poems
by Ann E. Michael
Paperback ~ 57 poems ~ 110 pages
Price: $23.00
Publisher: Kelsay Books
ISBN #: 978-1-63980-521-1
To Order: kelsaybooks.com
Available also through Barnes & Noble


In her newest collection, Abundance/Diminishment, Ann E. Michael knows “the nature of memory … that we forget.” At the same time, she acknowledges within nature “a place to remember and to rest.” It is between these two markers–nature and the nature of memory–that her poems flourish. Each poem is an experience; each poem furnishes fortunate readers with life-lifting wisdom.


Unsurprisingly, much of Abundance/Diminishment consists of elegies–for the earth, for being wholly present, for a father, for friends, for a mother’s lost memories, for a missed daughter, and for children unborn. Here, “the floor drops out of the bottom/of our daily prayers.” Here, she recites, “Empty accepts what is given. Sorrow. Joy.” Here, when grief overwhelms, she remembers to “feel the cellist’s breath/swell against resonant spruce”; to listen to “animals, who tell us what we won’t hear.” And here, she asks, “How can I teach myself–the fact of gone/during a humid night/in late summer//while crickets sing?” The answer to the reader is in these well-tended and moving poems.
–Marjorie Maddox, author of In the Museum of My Daughter’s Mind

Abundance/Diminishment reminds us of the ethics of craft, language, diction and illuminative rhyme. Whether the topic at hand is gardening, meteor showers, or grief, the surprise of irony swerves towards the “something more” to life, a new way of experiencing the world through felt imagery. Voice, tone, and style play with and against literature that has come before this text to arrive at an understanding of a before and after in the present, wisely speaking to how love provides motivation, in spite of despair, by finding solace in connection. Ann Michael’s complete and accomplished poems, through semantic sleight of hand, sensitize us to how alive a human can be, illustrating time is a thing enlivening the body, and change is not necessarily enervating: hope and perseverance, demonstrated through the workings of the natural world, show how humanity progresses and evolves. The religiosity of a lived day, in these poems, grounds a generosity towards the world that feels rare in this contemporary moment of poetry. These beautifully achieved poems of finality and continuance, dispassionate and humorous, represent a voice of a generation and place, a poetry not just anyone can write.
–Ian Haight, author of Celadon

Ann E. Michael’s poems of fullness and emptiness combine keen observation, philosophical questions, and a refreshing groundedness that invite the reader into complex, cleanly crafted contemplations of ordinary moments–moments turned extraordinary through her clear-eyed vision and delicious language. Smart, surprising, and wry, these poems honor equally the losses and the gains. A rich and rewarding collection.
–Hayden Saunier, author of A Cartography of Home

“I have an … eerie sense of connection with a sympathetic mind reading Ann E. Michael’s Abundance/Diminishment. This book tallies losses and bounties: it’s full of mathematical and scientific language, but what it counts and categorizes is deeply emotionally freighted. In 'Filling Out Forms at the Gynecologist’s Office,' she subtracts the number of her children from the number of times she’s been pregnant. In 'Tongues,' a child of six, mocked by classmates for the tongue sandwich in her lunchbox, prices out peanut butter–even as she loses her immigrant mother’s language … this is poetry of maturity, from a time of life when a person has to begin giving it all away. I’m especially grateful, these days, for books from midlife and beyond. I learn what I need to know by reading them.”
–Lesley Wheeler, author of Heterotopia and Poetry’s Possible Worlds


Ann E. Michael lives in eastern Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where for many years she ran the writing center at DeSales University. Her previous book, The Red Queen Hypothesis, won the 2022 Prairie State Poetry Prize. She’s also the author of Water-Rites (2012) and six chapbooks. She has worked with composers on librettos and translations of librettos and has written essays ranging from the scholarly to the humorous. Her interests are many, including botany, biology, cosmology, gardening, literature, the visual arts, philosophy, and the human condition.


by Ann E. Michael

were what I got
expert at undoing,
a child’s shoelace
or the pull string
on a toy. Also such ties
as bound themselves
on waistbands and
wet swimsuits.
Leather cord, yarn,
rope, cotton twine,
the worst was
fishing line. I told
my kids, sometimes
you can’t untangle
what’s drawn into itself
too tight and must
resort to scissors
or knife. But only
after some attempt
to work it loose:
patience, gentle probing
lubricated, perhaps,
with laughter


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