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Only This Room - By Kerry Hardie (Gallery)

Last update - Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 11:46 By Metro Éireann

Being an immigrant in Ireland, I’m doing my best to catch up with the literature and poetry of my adopted home country. However, what stops me from immersing myself wholly is the fact that there’s so much to read from all over the world, so much to keep up with!

When approaching a work that is culturally different, there is often an underlying sense of estrangement, and I guess it forms part of the attraction for such literature. Can we understand and make sense to each other across cultural barriers? Then again, that’s a concern one has to let go of to meet others halfway, or learn new things. So I did.
It helps that Kerry Hardie is not solely focused on Ireland; she’s flitted from Spain to India and around, and the fact that she had been born elsewhere – Singapore, to be exact – did also somehow encourage. We are all strangers, but this reality is easily lost in a world where we are all just trying to belong.
Hardie is an esteemed writer who has two novels, many poetry books as well as prizes under her belt, but you do not feel that she needs to assert herself in this manner at all. The poems that make up this book have been carefully written. They belong like prayers on the leaves of a tree, or mantras etched unto the wings of a sleeping bird, yet there is also a very physical appreciation here, especially in regards to nature. In many of the poems Hardie gets very personal, and I must admit that this focus on the personal alienated me a bit, but only for short moments which took little away from the whole.
Overall, her deeply felt poems remained with me like poignant photographs. I feasted on her language, and felt the sentiments and issues, such as how feelings change in a long partnership; what it’s like getting older; how a sudden thought of ending things can surprise one in a very magical yet everyday moment.
She also made me consider how birds paint the world with so much more than colour and sound; how to find ways to partake in life in the most careful yet generous way one can; how the eternal chase of something prevents stillness; and how meditation on, and preparing for, what can come next is part of life.

Jeanette Rehnstrom is a writer and freelance journalist. More information about her work and the Irish Writers’ Exchange can be found at

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