Every line in Somerville's verse packs a wallop. Her bawdy piety and divine colloquialism lets us know that truly a bard walks upon this earth.
Nava Renek, Author of Spiritland and No Perfect Words Seventy years later, an ocean removed from the churchyard stone where Yeats' epitaph is carved, Michele Madigan Somerville dares to cast a cold eye on life, on death. But she looks deeper: rather than merely sing "whatever is well made," Black Irish celebrates all that Somerville finds fragile or wounded or broken; neither embalming nor romanticizing the past, these astounding, untrammeled poems excavate & reclaim histories--sacred, pagan, singular, tribal- one might have thought irretrievable. By turns elegiac, amorous, expansive, lapidary, Juvenalian, & vulnerable, Black Irish melds an almost classical austerity with an emotional immediacy that is breathtaking. Too brave & exact an artist not to be drawn toward her own private Byzantium, Somerville's ultimate domain remains "the foul rag & bone shop of the heart"- castoff turtles, mermaid brothers, Brooklyn Christmas trees - familiar & wondrous at once. Where else can poetry go? Mike Sweeney, Fairfield University, author of In Memory of the Fast Break Black Irish is a home filled with robust love of family, wherein Michele Somerville is attentive to the duties given to such dedication. In that life "narrativity" is ordered, core and inexorable despite seemingly straightforward historical renderings. I almost want to refer to this book as a collection of stories, though each piece is clearly driven by poetics. The articulation of how desire and fulfillment inevitably come into conflict with realities of practical life makes for compelling, generous moments. Christopher Stackhouse