top of page

A New Path

Official website of Margaret Anne Kean

Anchor 1

Chapbook now available

from Kelsay Books at

and can also be found on Amazon.

"The poems in Margaret Kean's Cleaving the Clouds are simply beautiful. The work here is grief work, but I can't help imagining beauty on top of death, in layers, like Mark Doty's quote, There are buried cities/one beneath the other. These are lyrically resonate poems that refuse to filter out the natural beauty of the world in the midst of grief -- there are white cockatoos, carillon bells, jack rabbits, and barren trees. As if to say, grief with its arms crossed, stubbornly remains in this world, entangled with the beauty within the world."

- Victoria Chang, author of OBIT

To schedule a reading, contact me at 

Kean Front Cover of book.jpg



Droplets shimmer on bare branches,

little white shiny pearls of light.

Even in the dead of winter

nature finds a way to decorate itself,

to dress up for the new year.

Published by

2018 #1820

To read recently published poems, please visit Anti-Heroin Chic:

For other recent poems in San Antonio Review, use these links:

Click here to read "After the Mammogram" and "Sabbath Preparation" in the San Antonio Review.

A Candle for My Father

on His 95th Birthday

A quiet man, a banked fire.

Once we leaned against his warmth.

His light refracted through us, sparks enlivened,

light catching light, leaping candle to candle,

dispersing across the land, darkness dissipated

by the glow of a thousand flames, like fireflies

fill the summer night.

But now in his winter, his fuel

runs low,

starter fire



to the muted



of a










Thoughts About Writing and Reading Poetry

In her book, A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver wrote: "...a mind that is lively and inquiring, compassionate, curious, angry, full of music, full of feeling, is a mind full of possible poetry....poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes indeed."

In a 2008 interview in The Bomb Magazine, Lauren LeBlanc asked poet Ada Limon this question: "Is poetry an act of naming for you?"  She answered: "I love this question, because I am, in fact, obsessed with naming. The idea of putting words to the ultimately unsayable is fundamentally the poet's insurmountable task."

She goes on to say why she loves poetry:  "I love poetry for numerous reasons, but one very essential reason is that poetry is the only creative writing art form that builds breath into it. It makes you breathe. It not only allows for silence, it demands it."

Both Oliver and Limon put into words thoughts that have been inarticulate in my mind for many years. I am in awe of poets who can use language to capture what happens in our brains and in our hearts when we notice egrets walking slowly along the beach after low tide, patiently lifting their long legs as they search for sustenance. I read Oliver's poem "The Ponds" and know my imperfections to be acknowledged and accepted. Jane Kenyon's "Walking Alone in Late Winter" captures the complexity of relationships. As a former choral singer, I am stunned, and find myself holding my breath, while reading W.S. Merwin's "Weinrich's Hand." And as I grow older, I am moved deeply by Merwin's "Dew Light." 


Poets express the deep longings and fears we all experience.They use poetic forms and the musicality of words to grieve senseless violence, to celebrate the life force within jazz rhythms and to honor a life fading before our eyes.

I believe in mystery and wonder, in the interconnectedness among all living creatures and the reality of another dimension we cannot see. I am drawn to the beauty of creation – to the drops of waters hanging like pearls on a barren tree in winter, to the iridescent pink of a hummingbird head and the deep blackness of the crow’s feathers.


I believe that the human body, mind and spirit are deeply entwined. Although I am not a scientist, I am fascinated by recent discoveries in neuroscience that show how the brain is re-wired through meditation, by what we read and what we spend time thinking about. (As has been stated,  “Our mind grows by what we feed it.”) To me, poetry is a way to write about all of that and to celebrate the extraordinary mystery of the ordinary, everyday lives that we are given.


A Favorite Poem

The World I Live In 


I have refused to live

locked in the orderly house of

     reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyway,

    what's wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn't believe what once or

twice I have seen. I'll just

     tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head will you

     every, possibly, see one.

                           - Mary Oliver, Felicity

                             (c) 2015 Penguin Press

Breathing and Being












She said it was an act of rebellion. Men and women choosing to lie perfectly still, consciously breathing, simply being, not doing. A dangerous rebellion.


And it makes me wonder what would happen if across the globe people chose to simply be and not always do? If we brought our hearts to our work and not just our minds? What if we chose to focus on kindness, breath and being present now, in this only day we have been given? To not be filled with thoughts that anticipate tomorrow but focus only on this moment we are in. What tectonic shift could happen?


What if we refused to get wrapped up in senseless arguments, petty concerns and simply led with breath, kindness and sensitivity. If we prayed for ourselves and for others around us that our hearts would be opened and softened to recognize beauty in nature and in other people around us? What revolution would that bring?


Peace certainly can’t be achieved through war. It won’t necessarily be achieved solely through loud protests. Perhaps it can be achieved through conscious silence and attention? By groups standing purposely still. Kneeling in silence. Walking quietly, deliberately, intentionally, slowly, one foot in front of another. Placing ourselves, our bodies, our breath in a reverential, sacrificial way for another.


Imagine if masses of people were to stop, to stand still, to breathe in and to exhale, together, on this journey.


The ocean might breathe again. The land might breathe again. The hawks, the crows, the hummingbirds, the pigeons, the sky and the clouds, could all breathe a long exhale sigh of release and relief. What a healing could come upon the land. What a different way we could be with each other. We might even see God in the faces of all our brothers and sisters.




A Shiver In The Leaves


Luther Hughes


“Who Owns This Body, Really?”


Nov 21 

By Margaret Anne Kean

“If I am successful, my people will make eye contact with you, and our dialogue will begin,” wrote the late artist Robert Ernst Max, whose painting “Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave” adorns the cover of Luther Hughes’ powerful debut book of poetry, A Shiver in the Leaves. Hughes’ poems make eye contact. By successfully weaving his own experiences and point of view in response to a wide range of visual art, song lyrics, other poems and current news, he brings the reader not only into relationship with the speaker, but also into societal conversations about race, sexuality and the crushing weight of violence...



Rachel Eliza Griffiths


Reviewed by Margaret Anne Kean

…her body was the only home/I cared about.”

Poet Marilyn Nelson has said “when you go to listen to a poet read, you leave having learned not only about the poet’s reality but also about the reality you are living.” She calls this “communal pondering.” Through Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ exquisite fifth book, Seeing the Body, we are invited into communal pondering about the physicality of grief, silence and absence, as the poet grapples with her mother’s death, its effect on the poet’s body and psyche, and the necessity of living beyond such a monumental loss.......

For a recent review of Brandon Rushton's debut collection in April 2023 Tupelo Quarterly, use this link:

In the Kindness of Their Quiet


Jan 23 

By Leonora Simonovis

A Review of Margaret Kean’s Cleaving the Clouds

Margaret Kean’s first poetry chapbook, Cleaving the Clouds, takes the reader on a journey through both external and internal landscapes where grief, wonder, and the rituals of everyday living become meditations on the mysteries surrounding life and death. The poet’s acute observations of her surroundings and important events in her life, reveal what is underneath the façade of people and places, both familiar and not: “She had many buried cities inside her./ Only four were ever excavated./ The rest died with her.” (22) says the speaker in “Buried Cities” as she processes the death of her mother and reflects about the many layers of stories ––bodies–––underneath our cities, generations of people now gone, but still present in collective memory......

To read the remainder of the review, please click this link:

Margaret Kean Author Portrait Med jpeg.jpg

Photograph by Chris Flynn


Margaret Anne Kean was born in Los Angeles and raised in Southern California. She received her BA in British/American Literature from Scripps College, and after raising her family, received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University/Los Angeles.


A 2023 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Eunoia Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, San Antonio Review, EcoTheo Review, Drizzle Review, Tupelo Quarterly and Halcyon Days. She is an alumna of the Kenyon Review Winter Workshop, the Napa Valley Writers' Conference and Idyllwild Writer's Week. She is collaborating with a Portland, Oregon composer to set a tanka series. 

Her debut chapbook collection, Cleaving the Clouds, is now available from Kelsay Books or on Amazon.


Margaret lives in Pasadena, California with her husband of 40 years, and enjoys time with her two daughters whose stories are theirs to share.

To schedule a reading, please contact Margaret at


For further information please contact me at

bottom of page