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Eileen Berry

I am a geographer with a first degree from London University (UCL) and doctorate from Clark University in Massachusetts. I was an assistant Professor at Clark for several years before coming to Florida. Geography and Poetry are my two major interests and I am told that a keen sense of place pervades my poems. I was born in Southport, Lancashire, England and spent much of my childhood outdoors on the sea marsh and sandy shore there. I have traveled to many parts of the world and lived for a long  ...See more >


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"Few books of recent poetry reveal such a penetrating awareness of how the environments in which we live affect us a much as we affect them."

Kirkus Reviews


AWARDS, PRESS & INTERESTS

Kirkus Star: BYE BYE BLACKBIRD: WORLDS PAST AND WORLDS AWAY

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2012: BYE BYE BLACKBIRD: WORLDS PAST AND WORLDS AWAY

Hometown Southport, Lancashire, England

Day job Retired/Writer

Favorite line from a book I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngone Hills, Karen Blixen

Favorite word quintessential


BOOKS REVIEWED BY KIRKUS:

ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1935514749
Page count: 80pp

Merging geographic precision with detailed lyricism, Berry’s collection of poetry spans continents and states of the soul.

The best poetry focused on a particular locale tends to evoke sensory stimulation as much as meaning, and Berry’s collection of nearly 60 poems is no different. Born in England, the author has travelled widely throughout Africa and the United States. With a doctorate in geography, she casts a discriminating, discerning eye on the landscapes to which her travels have taken her. In unrhymed, compact poems—few more than a page in length—the poet speaks with seriousness about the relationship between the natural world and one’s inner world. In “Music of Place,” she writes: “Carried in the wind is the music of place, blown / like washing on a line, white sheets flapping, sending / large billowing folds of sound back to me,” which typifies her ability to translate a place into a finely detailed, highly specific moment in her past or present. Some poems set in North Africa elevate journallike jottings into sharply etched experiences. The dominant moods suffusing these poems are calm and meditational, perhaps reflecting the influence of poet Elizabeth Bishop, who was also attuned to inner and outer geographies. The final 20 poems shift focus from geography and place to reconciliations or frictions with family members; many relatives have passed on but are vibrantly alive in the author’s memory. These family sketches often turn on a particularly poignant phrase spoken to the author by a parent or loved one: “Windows” pivots on Berry’s father’s comment, “I could drive if I wanted to,” as the author notes that her father never owned a car. Few books of recent poetry reveal such a penetrating awareness of how the environments in which we live affect us as much as we affect them.

An extraordinary, nuanced collection by a gifted poet.