Touch: The Journal of Healing


Editor's Choice: The Voice of K.B. Kincer

In early February, we received an email containing four poem submissions from a poet unknown to us.  I was immediately intrigued by the introduction the poet offered to her poems as she described how they were set around the hospitalization of a critically ill patient, an environment I have occupied as a caregiver, patient, and family member for over three decades.  She went on to reveal that the poems spoke to the multidimensional experiences of patients and families prior to, during, and after major surgery and chronic illness, and upon reading her introduction, I immediately had flashbacks to events from my own past.  With these flashbacks still pervading my mind, I began to read her poems.  They revealed that during these events, we focus on things we rarely take notice of in our normal, uneventful, day to day lives, and how in the setting of illness, they seem to demand our attention.

With each subsequent reading, the poet endeared herself more to me because of her willingness to expose with complete honesty and openness the rawness of the settings and emotions experienced by the characters.  As in the past with each of our Editor's Choice selections, I was again convinced that we had found a strong voice that spoke to the theme of our journal.  During our next meeting, Daniel recognized the same in the work, and we discussed the poet's technique and why we found her writing to be so profound.  We selected three of her four poems, "Next to the UAB Hospital Townhouse in front of Tracy’s Café," "Waiting for the Transplant," and "After the Transplant," for our next issue.

"Next to the UAB Hospital Townhouse in front of Tracy’s Café" focuses on the perseverance of wild marsh grasses to exist between the cracks of a sidewalk having found a place where only their seeds could flourish after settling from their long travels from great distances and how the groundskeepers have left them undisturbed even though their presence contradicts the flowers intentionally planted there.  This poem is an acknowledgment of the strength it takes to exist under dire circumstances.  "Waiting for the Transplant" reveals the numbness that sets in for a family during a time when there is nothing they can do, no task, no offering of words of comfort, no staff to question about a loved-one's illness.  All there is is to notice what often evades our attention when we otherwise have something to focus on.  "After the Transplant" brings the return of the patient to the setting, but in this poem the focus is on what cannot be done for the patient by the family.  They can do no more than observe, think, and wonder what the future will hold as they catalog the removal of one piece of equipment after another until all that remains is a scarred semblance of the person they once knew.

With the hope that the poet had more work for us, I wrote to invite her to submit additional pieces for consideration.  Shortly thereafter, we were pleased to receive another group of poems and from these we selected "The Concrete Angel."  The setting for this poem is a roadside memorial where a daughter has tragically lost her life.  Invoking the image of spirit, the poet contrasts the etherealness of the soul with grey and concrete, and with the weight of a statue and its wings.  She uses this imagery to promote her use of metaphor to remind us of the weight a loss can cast on our own spirits.  What sets this poem and the three other pieces we selected apart from so many others is the poet's ability to allow a reader to make a connection to the writing without the poet feeling the need to explain the connection.  Her writing is so clean, clear, and concise that her poems are able to speak for themselves, and this, in my opinion, is what sets K.B. Kincer apart from so many others.

I would encourage those of you who seek to perfect your writing method to pay close attention to how K.B. Kincer introduces, provides a setting for, and concludes her work.  She makes use of an economy of words, and each word is carefully chosen so that it can carry the load of dozens.  She chooses to describe rather than explain, but note the way she layers and builds her descriptions.  Note where and how the repetition of words and phrases and the emphasis of imagery can provide the foundation for excellence in poetry.  A reader cannot help but understand the importance of what is being conveyed because there simply is no other possibility.

It is always exciting to receive work from someone new as much as it is humbling to be entrusted with the work.  We are grateful to K.B. Kincer for the care with which she has crafted these poems, and we are grateful that she has offered us the opportunity to present them to you now.

Without further delay, it is with great pleasure that I present to you a voice of Touch: K.B. Kincer.

O.P.W. Fredericks, Editor

© 2011 O.P.W. Fredericks


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Touch: The Journal of Healing

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