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Eleanor Kedney

At its core, Twelve Days From Transfer, by Eleanor Kedney, is about womanhood—how it is defined, celebrated, and feared. The speaker of the book teeters on a fulcrum between a desperate desire to give birth and the complex emotions surrounding the inability to do so. When she feels relief from a negative pregnancy test following infertility treatments, she looks closely at her childhood, uncovering inherited grief and a blocked path to motherhood. When the choice of whether to have a child or not is taken away, this writer looks at how a body’s betrayal shapes her life. The book opens with a first-person narrator who gives us an account of the treatment of infertile women throughout history. The speaker then delves into her personal interactions with outsiders—cruel experiences wrought with misunderstanding and apathy. It is through the examination of the pain emanating from her loss of motherhood that the narrator begins to forge a path toward moving on. In offering the reader the hope of coping, Twelve Days From Transfespeaks to the universal experience of loss and grief. It is a book for those who are mothers and fathers, and those who are not. A thread throughout the book is a series of prose poems about a boy and a girl in India who lovingly embrace the speaker as their mom. We glimpse the speaker’s important role in their lives and how she navigates these special relationships. This is a generational book that wisely acknowledges the emotional pull of the past while traversing the present. The collection closes with a poem depicting women tending to pear trees in the hope that they may bear fruit in the future and the physical ache of reaching toward the canopy.

Ripe as a pear-shaped uterus, the poems in Eleanor Kedney’s Twelve Days From Transfer are manifestations of obsession, desire, and motherhood. I’m grounded in the narrative of infertility but, again and again, carried toward hope—unplanted tulip bulbs on a car seat, gray moons of embryos, and the souvenir dish from the fertility clinic that held those unborn promises. With lyric and narrative skill, Kedney articulates the urge toward planting, grieves failed attempts at pregnancy, but buoys her readers in dreams fulfilled—the husband who adores her and the sponsored daughter and son in India who sustain her. These poems document the universal urge toward procreation—extraordinary measures that exist in plant and animal kingdoms. Everything a newborn. / Everything bare-kneed. I step away from this book understanding what it means to accept the limits of the body. This is what it is—to be fully human. 

–Robert Carr, The Heavy of Human Clouds

We were named witches begins Eleanor Kedney’s tour de force, Twelve Days From Transfer, in which the poet breaches the taboo subject of the unfruitful womb, a woman’s inability to conceive. In the title poem, Kedney allows the reader not only into the invitro fertilization process, but the privacy of her own body, layering details with the precision of the 1 ½-inch needle, and the cumulative effect is emotively unforgettable. Like eggs bound / by sperm, Kedney binds the medical/scientific language with a lush poetic and creates a new whole. Twelve Days From Transfer‘s impassioned understatement and luminous natural world observations elevate these poems into the realm of the timeless. Radiant, intimate, fired with compassion in the kiln of great pain, I predict acclaim and an enthusiastic readership for this collection. 

Stephanie Dickinson, Blue Swan Black Swan: The Trakl Diaries

Eleanor Kedney is the author of Between the Earth and Sky, a finalist for the 2021 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards and the 2020 Best Book Awards. She also is the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in various journals, magazines, and anthologies, including Connecticut River Review, New Ohio Review, Pedestal Magazine, The New York Quarterly, The Cumberland River Review: The First Five Years, and The Writers Studio at 30. Eleanor received a B.A. in English from S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook where she studied with Louis Simpson. She was a student of Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Philip Schultz, founder and director of The Writers Studio. In 2005, Eleanor launched the first branch of The Writers Studio and served as the director for ten years. She taught all class levels for the school, including the first Tucson Master Class, and she retired from The Writers Studio in 2015. Inspired by craft techniques utilized in her books, Eleanor developed the “Writing Toward Forgiveness” workshop. She joined the board of the Tucson Poetry Festival in 2021. Eleanor is passionate about literary community, advocating for animals, the environment, equal rights, and humanitarianism. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Stonington, Connecticut, with her husband, Peter Schaffer, their dog, Fred, and their cat, Ivy.