Recently, I shared two food poems from Barbara Crooker’s new poetry collection, The Book of Kells (Cascade Books, 2018).As promised, she’s here to tell us more about working on the book while on retreat at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.
The first 21 poems in the book (Section One) are a meditation on the The Book of Kellsitself, with ruminations on the lettering, ornamentation, inks, vellum and various subjects depicted in the world’s most famous Medieval illuminated manuscript. The remaining three sections include poems about Ireland (flora, fauna, countryside) as well as Barbara’s observations about her spring and fall residencies.
You will note that Barbara considered food an important part of her residency experience (my kind of writer!). We thank her for detailing a few of her meals, and for sharing so many lovely personal photos of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre building and grounds.
“For the whole world was holy,/not just parts of it. The world was the Book of God./The alphabet shimmered and buzzed with beauty.” ~ Barbara Crooker (“The Book of Kells: Chi Rho”)
Happy Almost St. Paddy’s Day!
Today we’re channeling our inner green with a little Irish breakfast and two food poems from Barbara Crooker’s new poetry collection.
The Book of Kells(Cascade Books, 2018)is Barbara’s eighth book, a masterwork of stunning, exquisitely crafted poems that left me breathless with awe and an even more acute yearning to visit Ireland again.
In addition to meditations and musings on the world’s most famous medieval manuscript (four lavishly decorated Gospels of the New Testament in Latin), there are observations about the Irish countryside, its flora and fauna, as well as personal reflections on time well spent during her two residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.
Barbara marvels at the beauty and singular magic of the Emerald Isle, whether blackbird, swan, lake, fuschia, wind, rain, the colors of autumn leaves (thank you, fairies), or “the bright splash of daffodils.” Ever present, profoundly human, she writes with an open, generous heart, reminding us to pay close attention to small miracles: “The rain’s thin music has set the world humming.” (“What is this world, but the body of God?”)
And of course I love that Barbara always knows just how to bring the delicious:
#43 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.
Love this quote by Eudora Welty:
I live in gratitude to my parents for initiating me–and as early as I begged for it, without keeping me waiting–into knowledge of the word, into reading and spelling, by way of the alphabet. They taught it to me at home in time for me to begin to read before starting school. My love for the alphabet, which endures, grew out of reciting it but, before that, out of seeing the letters on the page. In my own story books, before I could read them for myself I fell in love with various winding, enchanted-looking initials drawn by Walter Crane at the head of fairy tales. In “Once upon a time,” an “o” had a rabbit running it as a treadmill, his feet upon flowers. When the day came years later for me to see the Book of Kells, all the wizardry of letter, initial, and word swept over me a thousand times, and the illumination, the gold, seemed a part of the world’s beauty and holiness that had been there from the start.