Travelling Light (poetry)

Thunder’s Mouth Press
New York, NY
99 pages, paperback
Design by Loretta Li
Author photo by Russell Jeffcoat

Winner of the Capricorn Book Award of The Writer’s Voice 1985, selected by Galway Kinnell.
Sponsored by The Writer’s Voice of the West Side YWCA in New York City, the Capricorn Book Award is given annually to the winner of an open competition among American poets who are over 40 years old.

Travelling Light was also a finalist for the Lamont Award.

Available through Alibris and AbeBooks

Reviews Comments Where to Buy
San Francisco Review of Books

“Ken McCullough, in his fourth book to date, continues to develop his rich imagery and sure ear. His prize-winning poetry has attracted the praise of such respected poets as Richard Eberhart and Thomas McGrath. Setting almost every poem in the outdoors far from the taints of urban life, McCullough nevertheless avoids the clichés about the wilderness. he never resorts to recycling Gary Snyder or succumbing to the other temptations that offer the nature poet a quick and ready format. Instead, each piece is convincingly rooted in a specific experience and rendered in the poet’s own voice, without a trace of self-conscious mannerism.”

Kliatt Paperback Book Guide

“These are remarkable poems, fine and lean. They travel light and are filled with that moving energy, enjoining a mystical vision with an insight grounded in the hard beauty of the American West. Poems seem to merge with the collective wisdom of a saddhu and a Sam Shepard. One reads this book and simply learn about language and living. There are unforgettable poems here, eminently teachable, poems of ghost towns and lost lives, a beautifully evocative elegy, portraits of Vietnam veterans, poems born of the pain of the daily news, the death of the "Bubble Boy," a poem called "The Web," which links worldwide incidents of racism and hatred to symptoms of spreading disease, and a poem called "Buckley Interviews Borges," an uncannily intuitive piece in which the mind seems to be questioning the soul. These are poems of grace and torment, of knowledge and loss, poems that deserve the widest possible audience.”

The Des Moines Sunday Register

“McCullough’s substantial voice is at its best in narrative poems. “Elegy For Old Anna,” while partaking of horror in places, is full of the incredible sadness of ordinary life, reflecting on how irretrievable it all is, and how perspectives, perhaps even facts change. This elegy is full of humor, too, and that is McCullough’s other strength.”

Small Press

“These quiet, honest and rough-edged poems are about getting close to people… and the transient beauty and sadness of allowing ourselves to know others… McCullough fuses toughness with sensitivity…

An extraordinary eleven-part “elegy” to Anna… is the book’s centerpiece….

Unlike other poets of distant horizons, McCullough is not so much fleeing civilization as struck by the varieties of the human comedy. Bitterness is softened by the mystic serenity of the saddhu who finds tranquillity on mountain peaks.”


Travelling Light… has a wide range of stylistic and formal experimentation, ranging from a finely subjective lyric to an expansive narrative, and from a fairly regular accentualism to a freewheeling open verse…. Linking these 40-odd poems is a quiet consistency of voice that manages simultaneously a necessary awareness of what is a good poem, with a childlike outlook that allows the speaker to encounter the world newly…. There is enough richness of diction and obvious care for clear and essential figures of speech throughout to make this a fine book, with half a dozen poems that are truly memorable.”

Painting by Lisa Nankivil for "Obsidian Point" Book Cover

Photos of painting, books and other works by Kathy Greden

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