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Praise for “Seven Oaks Ago”
The elegiac poetry in “Seven Oaks Ago”, Kieran Egan’s latest work, is an uncanny combination of wit and learnedness with compassion. Through minute recall of the past, skillful storytelling that recaptures the varied characters and places from his life, Egan merges an inquiring mind with an empathetic heart. Try to resist reading all of “Seven Oaks Ago” in one sitting; savour the language; marvel at the glitter of each gem. ~ Ken Klonsky, author of “Freeing David McCallum: the Last Miracle of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter”.
Although many of Egan’s poems transport the reader to past worlds, don’t expect a nostalgic journey built on details curated to quaintly capture each era. Rather, elements of time and memory evoke intimations of worlds that were not perfect, and it is a blend of fallibility and virtue that lays bare our humanity. Similarly, in poems that invite the reader along on travels through Europe and Asia, and from the Gulf Islands off the west coast of Canada to unexplored galaxies, we are constantly holding the tension of opposites—of ‘the wreckage’ left in our hearts balanced with the possibility of a ‘second Eden.’ Like the ‘unfamiliar orthography’ discovered in a book unearthed in a Polish forest, the past may not be completely decipherable; yet, a reader finds themself carefully listening to these poems with an ear pressed to the past for traces of beauty and sorrow that are achingly familiar in the present. Poems in the later sections depict how in our experiences of daily life—riding the bus or attending the funeral of an old flame—we never stop having to bear both the enchantment and heartbreak. ~ Leanne Boschman, Co-Artistic Director of Planet Earth Poetry and author of “Precipitous Signs: A Rain Journal”.
“This is poetry that is not afraid to tackle big questions about how we live and why we live. We follow a man through his life from youth till old age, a man who grapples with the big ideas of our time, the rapid and bewildering changes he has observed and reflects on his role within the natural world. This is a collection that dissects tyranny and dictatorship, the minds of great thinkers and powerful monsters, yet extols the true beauty of trees in sunlight, the way the moon rises to reveal the silhouettes of a dog and a fisherman, and the way trees project against an evening light as seen from the window of a country bus” ~ Alan Hill, author of “In the Blood”
Kieran Egan is an explorer of sorts. In his new work, Seven Oaks Ago, Egan provides a thorough exploration of the past, present and future. However, Egan also interrogates interpreted and remembered pasts, a frightening present, and a number of possible futures. He examines ancient wars, tech giants, gods, Hollywood, and examines the mundane existence we all forget and countless childhood memories. By the end of the work, all of these pasts, presents and futures, all of the hopes and dreams and fears and recollections that Egan holds up to the light, congeal into a wonderful and terrifying reality that the reader has to step into. This work is a cartography of a surreal existence that lies just beyond our fingertips if only we have the courage to see it and remember it. ~ Angelo Letizia, assistant professor Notre Dame University, Maryland USA and author of “The Starry Devil “and “Pilgrims of Infinity”.
The poems in Kieran Egan’s Seven Oaks Ago deftly transport us to a multi-faceted, lyrical realm where the past and present coexist. “Why would the branches whisper to me of Caesar?” Ancient battles, real and conceived events from history and myth are interwoven with vivid snapshots of the poet’s Catholic childhood where he grapples with moral principles to a philosophical ease in adulthood examining life’s complexities. Careful observation and deep appreciation of the natural world add spiritual nourishment to his later years. In-depth knowledge of diverse topics, a playful imagination and linguistic finesse create a breathtaking voyage that is immensely satisfying. ~ Doris Fiszer author of “Locked in Different Alphabets” shortlisted for the Archibald Lampman Award 2021.
Kieran Egan’s second collection of poems, Seven Oaks Ago, takes the reader on a narrative journey where lines blur between history, myth, fact and fiction. Thoughtful and taut these poems tell stories from a myriad of eras and times, from Greek Mythology to Modern times and everything in between. With precision and clarity Egan speaks to the reader of regimes and wars, of the church and its religion and of memory, moments in time that are captured with tender nostalgia while history looms above. There is much to ruminate in this fine collection that will invite readers to return to its pages again and again. ~ Susan J. Atkinson, author of “The Marta Poems”.