Dying of the Light contains fifty new poems retelling Milton’s Paradise Lost from a perspective sympathetic to Lucifer. The poems in Willett’s debut collection balance the visceral with the visual, the domestic with the divine, and the static with the transformative. This collection follows Lucifer escaping heaven, living with trauma, and finally journeying to Eden to free humanity. It is a story about family violence and institutional power; it is a work that wrestles with religion from the inside.
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Kit Willett reading five poems as the guest poet for the Isthmus Poets’ “Poetry Central” event for New Zealand’s National Poetry Day 2022 at the Auckland Central Library.
My ghosts emerge from fresh photographs
with vacant smiles, and framed certificates
in my study. They wear clothes that do not fit,
and dream of things I have long since left behind.
I hear them speak names that I have never heard.
When, on the cold nights, I wake
from sleep, I hear more ghosts
moving in the attic. They knock
over boxes and fall down the stairs.
I sometimes nurse them back to health:
I sit with them, and make them tea,
and listen to their stories—
such long-winded, distant tales.
And in the kitchen, on those nights,
if I am tired enough, and my guard
is down, and I feel alone, I will sit
with them—and remember.