The reader might be justified in thinking that the ‘M’ in the title of Colette Bryce’s new collection could stand for ‘mortality’, ‘mourning’, or the spontaneous and cathartic practice of the writer’s ‘morning pages’ – until they reach the book’s arresting central sequence. Addressed to a named ‘M’ who has suddenly died, this fourteen-part poem depicts the experience of unexpected bereavement, and the altering effect such events have on the living. It does so unflinchingly, gracefully and honestly, as Bryce harnesses her characteristic insight, forensic eye and tightly woven music to deeply moving ends – while demonstrating again why she is regarded as one of the leading Irish poets of the age.
As the book unfolds, it becomes clear that her other subjects – of family, travel, history and ageing – all orbit the gravitational centre of The M Pages. What emerges is an important book about love, fear, self-censorship and the limits of our knowledge, and what we can and cannot say about some of the most profound events we face.
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