Christine McNeill, Sehnsucht
(Shoestring Press, 2020)
Patricia Cleary Miller, Can You Smell the Rain?
(BkMk Press, 2020)
Emily Oldfield, GRIT
(Poetry Salzburg, 2020)
Christine McNeill has published four collections with Shoestring as well as Kissing the Night
with Bloodaxe. She was born in Vienna, and the term ‘Sehnsucht
’ (ze:nzuxt) – ‘an intense yearning, often connected with the unattainable’ has been described by the Austrian poet Alois Hergouth as ‘something we shall never comprehend’. This is the focus through which McNeill approaches her themes of nature, ageing, identity, and music.
In ‘Sun and Candlelight’ she deploys chiaroscuro:
A ray of winter sun blankets
an old philodendron leaf.
Wandering on, it kisses
us two in the photo frame,
it reaches a lit candle:
Sunlight retreats from the window
leaving the candle- flame on its own.
You in the photo, burn what I thought
had been lost into my soul.
‘Birth of a Philodendron Leaf’ explores ageing and identity: ‘After a life in academia he didn’t expect to end in this incoherent darkness Day in, day out, his sight fixed on the philodendron’. Despite this apparently bleak realization, there is compensation when
… sudden as the winter sun
he saw it emerge from an adult stem
sap-green, minute spear
that he watched without questioning.
and though there were no words in his head
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