Category: Book Buzz
Published: 16 June 2014
In a Country None of Us Called Home: Poems by Peg Bresnahan
“Welcome to Bresnahan country! It’s a place at once real and mystical, familiar and strange. There are open plains, foreign settings, the Great Lakes, forests, and mountains. Peg Bresnahan looks closely at her surroundings, especially animals and citizens of all ages in her densely populated country. There’s the woman who listens to the televangelist, the rescue dog, the unexpected opera singer, the unnamed whistler, the girls who put radium on their tongues, the woman looking for her son’s grave. Bresnahan writes with compassion and affection, but there’s often something unsettling, maybe even too frightening to be more than implication. Her country cannot be called home. Her discomfort, her edginess, is subtle, yet always there. ‘Each heart knew its own breaking,’ she writes in ‘At the Jordan Street Café.’ Bresnahan has a unique voice, a true sense of poetic cadence and story, an understanding of the life sequence. She has put the whole world, even with its evanescence, into this fine collection. In 'Slipstream,' wondering who will die first, she or one whom she addresses, she says ‘. . . If you do go before me, / I will give away your empty shoes.’ But her country will remain.”
—Anne Harding Woodworth, author of The Artemis Sonnets, Etc.
“What a true gift we have in Peg Bresnahan’s dazzling new collection, In a Country None of Us Called Home. The narrative voice in these poems has a focus that is honest, steady, and absolutely clear. There is also a sharpness of observation (and of implication), as when the poet comments on the everyday birds of Sri Lanka that hover daily in smoke, insignificant and scientifically unnamed. But they too carry their own signature, ‘since they always wake at dawn,/ fly to burning fields /and sleep at night/ wrapped in wings/ the color of tropical seas.’ This poet’s gift is to offer the ordinary a moment of uniqueness that each life deserves. This collection indeed is a gallery of the extraordinary and small planted in time—a vision that perhaps only the photographer or poet can arrest perfectly. Inspiration radiates from every life and distant land visited in this eloquent book of poems.”
—Katherine Soniat, author of The Swing Girl
“‘When the unthinkable/begins, haven’t people always filled/their arms, carts, carriages, cars/with what they couldn’t leave?’ This evocative and heart-rending question is followed by the even more poignant one— ‘Who’s to say what I’ll grab first/when the sirens wail?’ Peg Bresnahan’s In a Country None of Us Called Home, is, itself, the answer to that question. Bresnahan shares with her lucky readers intimate explorations of the things she cannot leave behind. This is one of the most beautifully crafted and deeply moving collections I have read in a long time. If and when ‘the sirens wail,’ this will be one of the books I grab first.”
—Cathy Smith Bowers, author of The Collected Poems of Cathy Smith Bowers and Poet Laureate of North Carolina, 2010-2012
In a Country None of Us Called Home is Peg Bresnahan’s second collection of poetry. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and received her MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.
She moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina and the land of waterfalls from the Door County Peninsula of Wisconsin, exchanging what she thinks of as the horizontal water of Lake Michigan for water that is decidedly vertical. She is a past board member of the Friends of DuPont Forest where she lives next to DuPont State Recreational Forest in Cedar Mountain with her husband, sculptor Dan Bresnahan, their dog and two cats.