This is a book by a poet who is new to me, which I bought at StAnza, and I am so pleased I did. Kerry Hardie is an Irish poet who writes about a lot about home, exile and travelling, the Irish landscape, alive with birds and changing weather, and the people who live there, about illness death and bereavement. It is domestic poetry, in that it grows from the engagement with home and family, but not domesticated – by which I mean that it is not sheltered, cosy, narrow or sentimental.
People talk a lot about restoring a lost connection to the earth, and there is a lot of poetry which tries very self-consciously to re-create that connection, often by air-brushing out the people, as if ‘wild’ nature was somehow more natural. There is, of course, a real problem in very urbanised or industrialised societies – you only had to look at the opening of the Olympic Games to see how dominant the built landscape and the technological mindset is in England. But this book is a poetry of the human inhabitation and involvement in landscape. It is no less knowledgeable or realistic about the natural world than some of the ‘geek poets’ I reviewed earlier this year, or the wild writers, but it does feel more assured, more grounded, even more genuinely progressive.
It’s also more accessible. The style of these poems is deceptively easy. They read like notes to friends, snatches of conversation with – or about family members. But the language is acutely visual, tactile, atmospheric, and the thinking is profound. Way back when I first went on line, and my blog was hosted by LiveJournal, I had a rant about religious poetry, which is so often a over for preaching, confrontation or simply shoddy poetics and/or theology. Not this time. This is how you write good poetry about religion. I love it.
You can find out more about Kerry Hardie on the Bloodaxe website: http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/personpage.asp?author=Kerry+Hardie