Poets of the Monterey Bay
Poetry and Short Prose: 2000-2002
Joseph Keller McNeilly
Illustrations by Ian Patrick McNeilly
|Joseph Keller McNeillys In Here is the realization of an extraordinary poetry project: 96 poems written in 22 months, complimented by 13 drawings by the poet and 36 drawings by his 16-year-old son, Ian McNeilly, yielding a book of 384 pages. The title speaks the projects goal: to record for his son the poets inner life as accurately and nakedly as possible. The project is driven by the authors knowledge that he suffers from a progressive, incurable illness. Five great rivers run through these poems: The violent abuse of his childhood and its physical and emotional scars, roused by the recent deaths of his parents; his physical illness and thus the prospect of death; his bipolar mental illness; his love for his wife; his love for his son. McNeillys sharp intellect is fully engaged with everything in him and his world, but his emotions have full sway from recurrent tender and passionate love, loneliness and loss to black despair and rage. His rhythm and sense of the line is firm, his language is alive and vividthese poems are honed to a wonderful clarity. Ian McNeillys drawings demonstrate a remarkable imaginative and expressive power. This book is an act of love. This book is a testament of courage. This book is a cry for life.|
Few poets I know have Joseph McNeillys talent, his rhythm,
his ability to craft one singularly clear image after another and magically
make the connection between Robert Duncans proverbial porcupine and the concrete block
appear light and obvious and natural. Yet the poems within In Here do just that. They
literally resonate with McNeillys clear, moving, masculine voice, and echo his bravery
as an artist to challenge the conventional prettiness of poetry on a host of
levels. These poems reveal the passionate, unforgettable soul of a father, husband,
lover, and teacher. In Here is a work of art, a literary beacon reminding us all
that the day is short, the night long, and the need is ever-pressing to be honest
in our words, our lives, and our capacity to feel love.
Ian Patrick McNeilly, 16, is the authors son. Proudly left-handed, Ian has been drawing from the moment he could grip a pencil. Although he has had private showings on refrigerators in Colorado, Washington, Michigan and California, this is Ians first publishing credit, his first collaboration. Born in Wenatchee, Washington, he has lived in Santa Cruz County, California since 1987. Ians future plans include art school.