ABOUT THIS BOOK
Poems that consider the instability of identity through fictional and religious characters.
In Ishmael Mask, Charles Kell reminds us that identity is precarious. Kell’s collection is a collage of the journeys and interior lives of various wanderers—from Ishmael, the son of Hagar, to Melville’s Ishmael, and from Pierre of The Ambiguities to Pierre Guyotat. Each poem strips back the mask and beckons us to witness humanity in its barest forms. Captain Ahab’s leg, Ishmael’s arm, and Pierre’s severed head serve as invitations to consider hunger and hope. The inspirations behind these poems—the Bible, Heraclitus, Melville, Guyotat, Tomaž Šalamun—are transformed by Kell, conjuring dreamscapes both dazzling and haunting.
Ishmael Mask masterfully allows a glimpse into the human experience of feeling lost—even when right at home, even in our own bodies.