Trial By Ordeal: Poetry by Karen Mobley

Trial By Ordeal Poetry by Karen mobile book cover.

In a short period, Karen Mobley lost her family through death, was hit by a car, broke her leg and experienced a number of calamities. This sequence of poems, Trial by Ordeal, explores her role as a daughter, sister, and lover as her faith is challenged.  A visual artist, Mobley’s poems are rich with her artist vision and observed experience. The poems chronicle loss as she seeks awe and astonishment in nature and survives the loss of family and personal injury. 

Mobley, Karen
Trial By Ordeal: Poetry
Resource Publications
ISBN 13: 978-1-7252-6900-2
Retail: $9.00

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Reviews:

Karen Mobley creates poetry written with the full-on sensory palette of an artist. In dealing with loss and grief, there is comfort in the beautifully detailed intimacies of childhood memories; there are lessons taught by nature: the flora, the fauna…even the rocks; and there is the grace, compassion and wisdom of the gospel in ultimately learning to turn the other cheek. Trial by Ordeal is a good and loving daughter’s journey, one that informs us as we navigate ours.”

Chris Cook, Spokane Poet Laureate

Bemused, unsparing, yet tender, Karen Mobley’s poems juxtapose human suffering alongside nature’s “raw and present” beauty in this moving anatomy of sorrow. Equally attuned to small birds and searing questions, Mobley shows us that no matter what befalls those we love, no matter our souls’ myriad pains and hungers, we are ever-propelled toward “astonishment / with a side of salt and honey.””

Laurie Klein, Where the Sky Opens

Before I received a copy of Karen’s manuscript to read, she told me, ‘I feel like I have been working on this material since the day I was born,” and that’s exactly what Trial by Ordeal feels it is about: overcoming the lifelong obstacle of yourself to gain a closer perspective of your own life, and to even maybe forgive. You can count on Mobley to just as easily brushstroke a poem like “Seen Enough” about her mother onto the page the way she would, given the “also” visual artist that she is…but this is poetry…on a page…Through the thatched lines she layers, interweaving traumatic, sometimes horrific, yet tragically beautiful, and tender, imagery from her own life of sacrifice, injustice and shame, one atop the other, same as on canvas, suddenly, this view and sense emerges that makes you want to feel each poem more deeply, sink into the experience. The scenarios hit hard form the start with “Washing Feet,” then these poems, as a whole, come from the core of the poet, and set a tone for what is to come, as the full response unfolds, one struggle at a time, our own response to the loneliness of loss, grief and sorrow. Experiencing this collection in all its raw form, (because that’s the way the poet wants to deliver it, no strings attached) many times forced me to reflect on my own responses to grief and loss. Mobley lays tracks with lines such as “The future is a difficult loss to accept,” that are not hard to follow. They end up leading to a sort of awakening of gratitude for the hard questions and experiences, the times of having loved so hard, how does one then size up (where does one place) the pieces of having had–then lost? What color is that, and how does it feel?”

Zan Agzigian
Poet/Writer and Host/Producer of Soundspace, Spokane Public Radio

Trial by Ordeal is both a close examination and a many-hued celebration of our bodies and all that they carry—disease, solitude, faith, love, grief, wonder. Memories of parents, lovers, self, and the natural world guide us between what is painful and what is beloved. Vibrantly painted, keenly philosophical, these poems inspire us to look within as much as they urge us to look up and out; they ask us to seek and imagine. Truly a marvelous debut.”

Sharma Shields 
Author of The Cassandra

Mobley writes out of a place of great love and great loss with gratitude and grace.”

Kim Barnes
Author of In the Kingdom of Men