Swimming with Shadows, Ethna McKiernan’s fourth collection of poems, returns to her earlier themes of loss—of her youngest son, of her father, and of the pervasive losses of the homeless population with whom she works. This new collection also addresses political wounds of a bygone America—the bombings of school girls in Alabama the 1960’s and the racially charged beating of Rodney King in the 1990’s—as it presents poems that address the conflicts of today. Interspersed are poems of love, praise and joy like “Thanks” and “Night Time on the Island,” poems rooted in the natural world, as well as some wickedly funny poems about the craft of poetry.
Praise for earlier work, Sky Thick With Fireflies:
This collection is twice a thing of beauty, once because of what it has to say and twice because of the way that it says it. The verses are unashamedly emotive without ever being maudlin or sentimental.
McKiernan’s vision is of the kind described as unsparing. She casts a cold eye which of course has the paradoxical effect in art of heartening us, of strangely warming us with the chill of truth. This is a significant book and, as noted, a full one, large as many people’s ‘selected poems’. It is memorable for all the above reasons; a serious and resonant collection.
Rory Brennan, Books Ireland