. . . and into the stillness / comes my knowing:
we carry our daughters until they are too light to bear,
then we carry our mothers; they are heavy as air.
Since she published her first collection Sara Berkeley has been a distinctive, vibrant witness to the way people live. The View from Here is a compendium of her observations. Her ‘habit of laughter / in the face of despair / will not be broken’, because her tremulous, sensual poetry is built around a strong backbone. Again and again she finds reasons ‘to march down Main Street / in your boots with your trumpet / and your heart in a suitcase’.
Whether she considers Ireland from afar or her adopted California home, night horses or her young daughter, ‘How It Will End’ or a beloved local cinema where ‘when the lights go down . . . the music wears its white dress down the aisle’, these bewitching poems resonate with thrilling details and surprise.
Dispatches from a delirious world show the richness of Irish poetry
SARA BERKELEY’S LATEST collection, The View from Here is very much about the acceptance of one’s voice as a poet. You Don’t Have to Be Mary Oliver to Write a Poem About Geese reads the title of one of her poems, and throughout this collection Berkeley speaks in tones at once affecting and clear about what the speaker of this piece calls her “poor, mud-speckled, stony-shored reservoir / of a life”. In their imagistic clarity and lyric grace Berkeley’s poems are neither too intensely autobiographical nor overly didactic in the ways that they report from the poet’s experience of living and working in rural California. In fact, while some of her poems may appear to describe aspects of her daily life, they are as much concerned with the process of writing poems, of what it means to accept and affirm the place, and importance, of art and imagination.
A Poem About Happiness is not so much about the poet’s particular experience of happiness as it is about the shape such a poem might take, given the right conditions. Berkeley’s quiet commitment to the art of the possible – and to the possibilities of art – is celebrated throughout this book, and The View from Here contains many haunting poems about what it means to live in the presence of poetry. That is the “Here” and “Now” described at the end of Boathouse, the book’s closing poem. Although it is tempting to read her as one of the most compelling poets of the contemporary Irish poetic diaspora, she is also an artist whose work resists, in a very fundamental way, categorisations based on local knowledge of biography or place.
— Philip Coleman, The Irish Times
Year Published: 2010
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 497 8
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 498 5
ISBN ebook: 978 1 85235 581 4