Kerry Hardie is a multi-prize-winning, internationally-established Irish poet, born in Singapore, a graduate of York University in England, who has worked for the BBC and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her eye for the world about her, both natural and human, is remarkable in its haunting particularity. No less remarkable is her ability to evoke the temporary and mortal nature of all things. Even those sturdy enclosing, keep-out markers, walls, are seen here to be ‘made to fall down’, a paradox Robert Frost would surely have found sympathetic. Broken walls in Hardie’s view foster nature, and afford spaces for pause and benison in recollection. They are in more ways than one life-enhancing.
Elsewhere, death lurks in the wings, as most obviously in the poem ‘Survival Poem for the Self’ and beats on the wings of birds too. In the poem ‘Choice?’, with its extended prose conclusion, Hardie meditates on St Kevin and his blackbird, as a benign symbol of trust and faith. The migrant house-martins, whose arrival under her eaves so delights the poet, are another matter. Unlike the steadfast native blackbird, the house-martins will cut their losses as the season turns, abandoning their young to die, if they’re not sufficiently developed to fly.
Absence and presence, wise self-counselling and acceptance, haunt Hardie’s essentially rural vision, with a poignant lyricism, as to be found in such delightfully melancholy poems as ‘From the Train Window’, ‘Make Poems’, and ‘Last Lines’. But all is not solitary existential reflection. The strengths of community in the presence of death offer moving consolation in the extended account of ‘The Pharmacist’s Tale’.