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The Sphere of Birds


Ciaran Berry

Also available as an e-book

From ‘the blood that’s bloomed above the wound’s neat hole’ to ‘harsher truths that hit home hour after hour’ Ciaran Berry fixes his unflinching stare on an astounding range of subjects – ‘foundlings’ out of history’s long corridor, Donegal fences, Belfast in the War years, immigrant workers from Ireland, a rogue elephant in Coney Island (1903), a high-wire walker, and the beekeeper’s art. From the fact of blindness to the act of seeing there is a surgical precision to his descriptions and reports. By way of the circuits of his meditations, curiosity and learning lead to the realm of discovery and elucidate often arcane mysteries. Sure-footed and steady paced this first collection reveals an uncommon capacity to sustain tension over long lines and, even, extended poems. The Sphere of Birds is a remarkably impressive, eclectic and accomplished debut.

‘Amazing poetry with not one filler poem, hardly a loose line . . . What technique, what style. Ciaran Berry mostly writes in long lines, almost like prose. Birds and animals populate the three sections of the book. Each part looks back at childhood in Carna, Co. Galway, Falcarragh, Co. Donegal and Belfast of his parents past and working in America. Each section seems to deepen the experience of seeing an old world with the eye of memory and a new world, a new place with an eye to create memories . . . The title poem is a tour-de-force, with the precision of a mature poet, a precient Brian Friel, who can leap forward a lifetime in a line. ‘Electrocuting An Elephant’ will not only impress you but ‘Moving And Storage ‘will amaze you like a Raymond Carier story but April 1941, his mother’s imagined birth in Belfast, will blow you away amid a collection of superb poetry. Seek out The Sphere Of Birds and Ciaran Berry and make a place for him, not only on your shelf but in your future.’ — Liam Murphy, The Munster Express



Winner of the 2011 Michael Murphy Prize

Winner of the Crab Orchard Award

Winner of the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize

Year Published: 2008
Details: 88pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 441 1
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 442 8
ISBN ebook: 978 1 91133 705 8

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