Reviews of Otherwise, Soft White Ash
I haven’t even mentioned the many other fascinating things about this text: how the color green almost becomes a character, the focus toward and philosophical musings on language, Allen’s cutting sense of humor coupled with an intelligent eroticism. The more I engage the book, the more I find to enjoy. If the words on the page are miner’s tools, as Allen says, then we as readers are asked to do our share of digging. It’s not a breezy read, but trust me when I say that digging is rewarded. It’s a layered debut, one which pleasures and pains, one that shows the animal and human thriving within us.
- Michael Scheltzer, Rattle
...the author’s revelations are more of a Rorschach inkblot, evidence of how poetry with insight and clarity will expose the mythologies we are caught in. The courageous honesty in the author’s approach is surprisingly uplifting and is very relevant to our cynical doom and gloom culture. It makes me believe, even momentarily, maybe poetry’s main purpose is (or should be) a reconciliatory one, overcoming loss through the ability to express that loss: in other words, there is a healing aspect in Allen’s language.
-Melanie Moro-Huber, New York Quarterly
These poems, along with the collection's two prose pieces, will make you drunk enough to dance on a table, but then shame you for enjoying yourself so much. But if Otherwise, Soft White Ash teaches a reader anything, it's that there's no shame in joy and you should find joy in realizing shame, and then, no matter if it takes generations, change. Kelli Allen refers to her book as a "creature." What does that make the poems? Little monsters? Unmanageable beetles eating away at a godly burning bush? Beaten bastards that you feed fish heads in the attic? They're not, though. Our poetess made sure of that. They're fireflies that give off an unnerving amount of light, more than our glow-in-the-dark watches and bright ideas illuminate; they're flashes that make sense of the world.
- Tyler Malone, The Only Blog Ever
- Aimee Levitt, Riverfront Times