The Limit of Light

11.9518.50

Clear
SKU: GW8000 Categories: , , , , Tags: ,

‘Picture the world without you in it’ — the opening line of Grace Wilentz’s engaging first collection, The Limit of Light, illustrates the imaginative range of her poetry.

The Limit of Light is a record of experience, a widely lived life. There are poems set in her native New York City, in the Everglades, in Morocco, in the Anasazi villages of the American West and in her adopted country, Ireland. Poems in the voice of her mother undergoing treatment for cancer and others that explore her Jewish heritage. Her succinctness of thought and her epiphanies are evident in ‘In this desert landscape / there is little enough to measure yourself by’ and ‘children are always / at the mercy / of the deal’. In her style and subject matter Grace Wilentz broadens the reach of recent Irish poetry.

    The sense life made runs ahead of me —
    a wild pony pulling its  trap,
    a startled child at the reins.

The collection comforts through Wilentz’s unflinching acknowledgement of life’s darkness. She writes about her mother’s cancer treatments and bereavement. In ‘Belly of the Whale’, Wilentz recounts the story of Jonah in words that are easy to relate to in the grief that isolates so many of us throughout life, especially now: ’After days/ of not speaking to anyone,/ the sound of my voice/ echoes back to me/ like the voice of a stranger.’ But rather than feeling mired in this darkness, I found in it ‘a landscape where I could begin to grieve’ (as she writes in the collection’s titular poem). Grounded in the ceremonies and stories of Wilentz’s Jewish heritage, [The Limit of Light] is a welcome reminder of the seasonality of all things.

— Elizabeth McIntosh, The Friday Critique, The Seamus Heaney Centre

The Seamus Heaney Centre are putting fast, short-form, reviews of new writing into the world on a weekly basis. Elizabeth McIntosh reviews Grace Wilentz’s The Limit of Light.

“‘The line is the line,’ writes Grace Wilentz in The Limit of Light, her first full-length collection published last autumn by The Gallery Press, ‘sometimes it runs without stopping — // it’s a different line if you stop’.

Wilentz’s poems trace this line through rituals that move the reader ‘through to a new feeling’ (‘A year with Two Springs’), whether that be learning string shapes in the game ‘Cat’s Cradle’, or the spine ‘curling and uncurling’ in ‘The Lioness’ and also in yoga, where it’s power lies in ‘making space within the body’ (‘The Story of My Neck’). In ‘Alsace Shabbat’ she writes ‘you longed/ for ritual and place — why you needed the candles — on a night/ when there were no candles around.// So you made some from the wax that coated the cheese’. The most ordinary of objects are transformed by the light cast on them in the poems—bolts of cloth become the robes of a queen, dried beans an offering, the body a source of light. Wilentz’s careful image-making celebrates everyday moments, imbuing them with meaning until they become expansive, filling in absences where things were lost.

The collection comforts through Wilentz’s unflinching acknowledgement of life’s darkness. She writes about her mother’s cancer treatments and bereavement. In ‘Belly of the Whale’, Wilentz recounts the story of Jonah in words that are easy to relate to in the grief that isolates so many of us throughout life, especially now: ’After days/ of not speaking to anyone,/ the sound of my voice/ echoes back to me/ like the voice of a stranger.’ But rather than feeling mired in this darkness, I found in it ‘a landscape where I could begin to grieve’ (as she writes in the collection’s titular poem). Grounded in the ceremonies and stories of Wilentz’s Jewish heritage, the collection is a welcome reminder of the seasonality of all things.”

— Elizabeth McIntosh, The Friday Critique, The Seamus Heaney Centre


 

Books of the Year 2020

Grace Wilentz impresses with her debut The Limit of Light (Gallery Press, €11.95), ‘Sometimes I can feel us diving/weightless, as I dream’ (Belly of a Whale).

— Paul Perry, Sunday Independent

Grace Wilentz Book Launch of The Limit of LightGrace Wilentz The Limit of Light Book Launch video

Publication date: 29 October 2020
Details: 80pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 91133 800 0
ISBN HBK: 978 1 91133 801 7

Cover: ‘The Ties That Bind’ (2013) by Jennifer Trouton, oil on linen

Recent Titles

The Gallery Press