A cornucopia of childhood reminiscences, adolescent longing, the increasing awareness and questioning of the shackles and impact of materialism alongside the stealth of secularism in our society. John Kelly is a poet of rare sensibilities through whose poems we are offered a prism to discover with a deepened awareness an appreciation of the profound. Students would do well to immerse themselves in John’s poems.

 

Elizabeth Duke, former teacher of senior English, History and Sociology at Tormead School, Guilford, Surrey.

In reading John’s anthology, A Schoolbag Full, it is hard not to be drawn immediately to memories of my own Catholic heritage and upbringing. Such is the power of the imagery that the reader feels an immediate affinity with the poet and his subject matter. This is a powerful collection of verse that speaks with authenticity, conviction and, above all, about the very essence of a life lived to its fullest.

 

Anthony Haskell, Co-ordinator of Teacher Mentoring, St Ignatius’ College, Athelstone, SA

This “Schoolbag Full” overflows with the fruits of a poet’s life: the child who sees wonder in the smallest details; the adolescent caught up in rapture; the disciple finding his bearings; the teacher full of learning; the elder becoming reconciled with ghosts of the past. The themes are universal. The poems are often personal but never self-indulgent. John comes from a line of Irish poets: it’s no surprise that deep affection and unwavering faith shape these poems, with an occasional curse thrown in for good measure. There is no showing off here. The poems are friendly rather than flashy. They need to be taken out of the bag one at a time, to be explored aloud as though travelling with a trusted friend. They help school us along the way.

 

John Honner, a Sydney-based writer

John Kelly’s love of language and literature, his penetrating insights and his artistic sensibilities, shine forth in this eclectic poetry collection. From the lovingly rendered depictions of a Catholic boyhood in suburban Adelaide, to the time when he closes his classroom door for the last time, his subjects are many and varied. Sport, art, religion, faith, family, friendship, ideology and Classical literature are prevailing themes from which he draws universal truths about life and humanity. This is poetry written with love, passion and integrity.

 

Elizabeth Waters, Teacher Librarian, Sacred Heart College (1986-2012), Somerton Park, SA

Of the final piece in this collection, Ghost Riders, Barry Oakley, writer and former
literary editor of The Australian newspaper, says: 

“A  wonderful poem. It unrolls with the sureness of epic, melding myth, literature and scripture into a harmony backlit by personal experience and deep faith. There’s a flame burning in it illuminating everything it touches.”