Poems by Meg Kearney with a foreword by Donald Hall.
About the Book
In An Unkindness of Ravens, Meg Kearney’s poems weave voices of estrangement and redemption: mothers, daughters, lovers of gin and dead things. In the middle poems, the protagonist confronts “Raven”: a figure of guises and disguises, revealing the speaker’s fears and angst. National Book Critics Circle Award-winning poet Donald Hall has written the Foreword.
Reaction to An Unkindness of Ravens
“This is one of the best books BOA Editions has published in a long time. Meg Kearney is a true find, and her poems are a reminder that the strongest poetry always arrives when the first-person speaker is dominant. The confident tone, the surprise of each moment, and the stories woven around deep imagery give Kearney’s work an unforgettable twist.”
—THE BLOOMSBURY REVIEW, March/April 2002
In An Unkindness of Ravens, BOA’s smart new selection for the A. Poulin Jr. New Poets series, readers will discover a worldly but tender female persona. Here is a modern Magdalene: complicated, tired, self-aware. Though she’s still young enough to fall in love, she’s lived longer than most, and is acutely aware of all the selves that make up her complex view of the world. Some of these selves are pure and know more than the speaker. “I notice for the first / time the girl not eating cake, not / smiling in her black and gray though it must // have been yellow or red hat. I can’t recall / her name, but wonder what she knew. / How, how did she know?” (“On Second Thought”) But the best among an amazing first collection are in the voice of the melancholy but life-wise woman who appears in bars, on the street, in rancid bedrooms, searching and longing for a place to be: “She cannot enter the house. No one has come out to greet her, / to say she is forgiven, to say / there will be roast lamb, dancing – “ (“The Prodigal Mother”) Though any one of these poems will stand alone, read as a whole, a deeply emotional narrative of a lost family surfaces. The poems of the third section, “Adoptive Measures,” explore both the persona of a mother who gives up her child and the “surrendered” daughter growing into the invented memory of both mother and daughter who longs to fill in the blanks of a life and make whole all the empty parts. “I search faces / on the street, at the supermarket, Laundromat; I try / not to be rude; I stroke my chin – Do I have your nose? / Would you turn your head?” (“What It’s Like”) Having explored the forgotten child, fallen woman, lost mother and daughter, Kearney’s speaker resolves in her voice of quiet love, “You turned as if to ask, What / is the sound of an oyster-shell sunrise? So / I turned into a pearl, hid myself in your hands.” (“Falling in Love at the Aquarium”) The mother-daughter poems are some of the most haunting of their kind and the Raven section is mythical in the modern sense. Here is a voice to keep close in the night, full of lush darkness but also heartening stars.”
—Anne-Marie Oomen, Foreword Magazine (February 2002)
“A debut book from a New York City-based poet who dips into the messy mix of memory and desire without squeamishness…”
—Sarah Goodyear, TimeOut, New York (March 2002)