T.S. Kerrigan's My Dark People

At last there is a full-length collection of T.S. Kerrigan's poetry, and those who have enjoyed his work over the years in various national journals and anthologies, along with those who possess his chapbook, Shadow Sonnets, will not be disappointed.

My Dark People has already won significant critical acclaim, including reaching the final in the Borders Books sponsored New Mexico Book Awards under the classification for poetry, and attaining a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize.

I want to dub the unrhymed tetrameter, which stands out as the prominent rhythm of this book, as "Irish Meter" or something similar, in honor of Kerrigan and his ancestors. Kerrigan means "of the dark people" and in the title poem Kerrigan evokes his Irish heritage superbly:

My dark people clutched
Faith like a crucifix.

Other poems embrace the Ireland Kerrigan loves almost as much as its literary legacy of Yeats and Joyce. In "Dublin Streets":

Within its freight of swans and filth
The ambling Liffey fashions myths.

Kerrigan is a poet with both a philosophical and social conscience. In a rare but accomplished sonnet, "License", he muses:

My neighbor saw, expressing disbelief
That Beauty should give license to a thief.

Meanwhile he ruminates on war and other calamities of the present day in poems such as "Be Thankful, Unicorn", "Childhood Memories", "Claire" and "Storms." Another theme he examines from various angles is the complex nature of the responsibilities and bonds that traverse generations. He writes of parents and grandparents, and perhaps most poignantly, his daughters:

Fall in love wisely
Bear children like yourselves.

Kerrigan's wisdom, accumulated during the years in which this collection has been long overdue, shines through these poems, created with grace and skill. To read them is to join Kerrigan in forgiving mankind his flaws because of the redeeming qualities of love and self-knowledge. Like Kerrigan:

We contemplate like voyagers
Our passages from shore to shore.

My Dark People is available from Central Avenue Press.

Anna Evans’ poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, and Measure. She gained her MFA from Bennington College, and is the new Editor of the Raintown Review. Her chapbooks Swimming and Selected Sonnets are available from Maverick Duck Press.

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