This is a book about the irreducible core of what it is to be human in a world that changes constantly yet repeats and repeats. It uses images that speak to a place in us that does not depend on fashion but braves that over-used word ‘archetypal’. It is mostly specific to a landscape the author knows very well yet sometimes ventures beyond, always with the awareness that fear is our constant companion, but also joy.
Its title holds an echo of Beckett: ‘I must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on’ (from his novel The Unnameable), and holds something of this despair, while holding to the irrational conviction of ‘being enclosed by light’. Kerry Hardie’s work – as Claire Askew has noted – is ‘a dark and gorgeous hymn to mortality’. It recognises that all localness is part of humanness; that the dominance of one sort of humanness to the exclusion of another sort diminishes all humanness, representing both loss and the degradation of the whole. Knowing this, the poet resolves –
just to go on
and keep making stories
to tell to the children
the old and the haunted
to pass the time
mark the hour
find the answer
go on trying
'Her poems are deeply personal yet have a mythic quality… The cycle of the seasons turns throughout the book. The poet is aware of that cycle beginning to close in on her too…to face that is to embrace life itself.’ - Sue Leigh, PN Review, on Where Now Begins
‘A book of enormous heart, fragility and courage, very aware of the cycles of life and decay, the wax and wane of seasons, and shot through with a sense of the fragility of life. These finely crafted poems grabbed our attention this year and make a wonderful companion to Kerry Hardie’s previous seven collections, including her Selected Poems, published in 2011.’ – Peter Sirr and Enda Wyley, Books for Breakfast podcast hosts, Our City Our Books (Top 10 Poetry Books of 2020), on Where Now Begins
'Kerry Hardie's Where Now Begins is full of a dark, exact lyricism... These, certainly, are poems which speak skilfully to (and from) our times.' – Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times
'Hardie’s skills as a lyric poet are second to none, and the meeting of that ability with the need to break new ground is productive of exceptional writing, reminiscent but by no means derivative of Elizabeth Bishop, in its combination of attention to detail and startling, subtly-worked-towards insight.’ – Miriam Gamble, Poetry Ireland, on The Zebra Stood in the Night
‘A dark and gorgeous hymn to human mortality.’ – Claire Askew, on The Ash and the Oak and the Wild Cherry Tree
‘Our trust reposes in such clear, open writing. Hardie’s later poems are barer, more strongly narrative, and sometimes read like parables and portraits at once… The poems speak to us from gardens as well as graveyards, from private homes as much as churches, and, most often, from the borders and boundaries that the poems speak so often and beautifully of breaching or attempting to breach.’ – John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
‘The essence of her marvellous poems lies in the way she sees through a material world that is rendered truthfully, plainly yet freshly.’ – George Szirtes, The Irish Times
‘The flame passed on by Kavanagh…still burns, and Ms Hardie has walked through the Holy Door.' – Hugh McFadden, The Irish Times.
'Her poems are confident and spare, full of dark shadows and sudden light… So close is she to her subject that they have a strength and a presence that stay with the reader like an afterlight of the experience.' – Sheila O’Hagan, Poetry Ireland Review
Kerry Hardie reads from her Selected Poems
Kerry Hardie reads nine poems from her Selected Poems: ‘Ship of Death’, ‘May’, ’After My Father Died’, ‘Avatars’, ‘Flesh’, ‘Samhain’, ‘Sheep Fair Day’, ’The Hunter Home from the Hill’ and ’After Rage’. Neil Astley filmed her reading a selection of her poems in April 2012 in a cottage on Achill Island in Co. Mayo, a favourite place of retreat. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).
Kerry Hardie's “live” Waterford reading for Where Now Begins
Kerry Hardie gave a pre-publication live reading from Where Now Begins for Waterford Writers Weekend at the Imagine Arts Festival to an empty auditorium at the Theatre Royal Waterford. The theatre was unable to host an audience because of COVID-19 restrictions, but Imagine Arts Festival filmed her reading for broadcast as part of the festival on Thursday 22nd October. She read seven poems from the book: ‘Bolt the Shutter’, ‘Shopping’, ‘Time Passing’, ‘Civil War Aftermath’, ‘The Inadequacy of Letters of Condolence’, ‘Day Lilies’ and ‘Real Estate’.
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