We all have been through a lot in these recent years. And we are still dealing with grief for things and people dear to us, we’ve lost.

But do you often feel you need to hide your grief?

The Sheltering is a recounting of pandemic and political anxieties through verse. The book exists as a witness to the darkest times of our modern society. Sometimes a dare, and other times a plea, the author invites the reader to sit with their feelings in a world that wants us to heal fast and move on. Because we cannot heal what we do not acknowledge.

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PRAISE & REVIEWS FOR THE SHELTERING


If / hope is for a better tomorrow, / who’ll keep the faith for today?

The bleakness of the pandemic isolation (“Is it the beginning or end of a dystopian era?“), the onset of war, the magic of autumn, family entanglements (“I lie ’cause it’s easier to say / Than to explain; monsters lurk in the shadows.“) and terrible loss: Khaya Ronkainen takes the reader through a wide range of events and emotions with a gentle voice that observes, questions, rages, accepts and finally looks ahead to a new light.

Even while the poems touch on politics and race and inequality (“It burns now as it did then / with / laws / passed / and men tallied / but / refusing / to die.“), Khaya is looking at the world through the prism of her own life and ‘The Sheltering’ is essentially a personal story. Read it for the truth and crispness of poetry set squarely in the uncertain times that we are desperately trying to navigate.

‘The Sheltering’ is essentially a personal story. Read it for the truth and crispness of poetry set squarely in the uncertain times that we are desperately trying to navigate.

— RAJANI RADHAKRISHNAN, author of Duplicity


Khaya has an amazing ability to redirect attention to the ordinary in a way that transforms it into something extraordinary. Look at the miracle she sees in the ordinary fact of water still having its quality of wetness, or her ‘discovery’, upon spending quality quiet time with her terminally ill father-in-law, that “every. single. breath. is. a. gift”. Her work challenges the readers to do away with the habit of taking things for granted, and instead invites them to look at the familiar with new eyes, in order to rediscover its wonder, its magic, its specialness. In other words, her poetry both celebrates and consecrates the ordinary in innovative ways by imbuing day-to-day situations, events, experiences, emotions, and things with the possibility and promise of radical illumination.

Her poetry both celebrates and consecrates the ordinary in innovative ways by imbuing day-to-day situations, events, experiences, emotions, and things with the possibility and promise of radical illumination.

— DR DANSON KAHYANA, Poet and Associate Professor of Literature, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda


The Sheltering, a collection of poems by Khaya Ronkainen, is a profound documentary work with the power to connect us with ourselves and each other. It is a lesson in being present, observing and breathing as we navigate life in challenging times. In The Sheltering, Ronkainen has provided us a master class on embracing what needs to heal in both a personal and collective sense. By inviting us into her intimate responses to recent global and personal crises, the author courageously models for us how to walk honestly with our grief and vulnerability. She invokes the imperative to heal as a necessary step in moving forward and a necessary step to remembering what it means to be human, to love and to be loved.

The Sheltering is a profound documentary work with the power to connect us with ourselves and each other. Ronkainen has provided us a master class on embracing what needs to heal in both a personal and collective sense.

— H. HENNENBURG, author of TEN


As I read this new book release, The Sheltering by Khaya Ronkainen, I experienced a raw and unfiltered feeling of reality that addresses grief with an illumination of emotional highs and lows. You cannot rush through grief unless you were born without a heart. Khaya bares a vulnerability, naked with truths that people tend to dismiss or sugar-coat. The topics she discusses are nothing foreign, they are simply expressed in a unique way. I believe grief is something we want to move from quickly so that we can get back to a so-called normal. But, as Khaya alludes to, “we cannot heal what we do not acknowledge.”

I was touched by her personal reflections in her poem, “Accepting What Comes from Silence.” Here she speaks about the heartbreak of her father-in-law’s final days, their last goodbyes as he returns to words of silence. Silence. There is such power behind that word, and it resonates in our existence.

The Sheltering is indeed a book that you cannot rush through. It is a book that echoes a reality that we may turn our heads away from, but the subject matter is one that we cannot ignore.

— KYM GORDON MOORE, author of We Are Poetry: Lessons I Didn’t Learn in a Textbook

Full Review @ From Behind the Pen


The book reads like a chronological story, beginning with the Covid years, moving through the death of loved ones and friends, and then into the current war. It’s poignant and full of the pain of grief and loss and the stress of living in a troubled world. The title “The Sheltering” felt appropriate, suggesting both the act of isolating and retreating, but also as a means of self-care and contemplation.

The poetry finally, quietly, and gracefully emerges back into nature’s sunlight, tentatively testing life’s waters. I felt the poet’s renewal and healing, and breathed the fresh air captured in one of her final poems.

The title “The Sheltering” felt appropriate, suggesting both the act of isolating and retreating, but also as a means of self-care and contemplation.

— D. WALLACE PEACH, author of The Necromancer’s Daughter

Full Review @ Myths of the Mirror


Expressing herself through poetry helped Khaya get through the pandemic. Yet, while humans sheltered at home, nature continued its orderly routine. Flowers still bloomed. Birds still warbled. The earth still turned. And when that final autumn came before the restrictions were lifted, leaves still burned with color and hope.

Her impressive collection of poems is written with thoughtful consideration, deep emotion, and keen observation of the world around her.

—DAWN PISTURINO, author & contributor to Wounds I Heal: The Poetry of Strong Women anthology

Full Review @ Dawn Pisturino’s Blog


IN CONVERSATION

Khaya Ronkainen & Anu Hirsiaho 

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