Small Stations Poetry

There are three main threads in Karen Harrison’s poetry, which intertwine: nature, God and her personal life. But they are not simply ontological, they belong to each other, they widen each other, they talk amongst themselves. In Harrison’s nature, there is room for many birds, but the most important are those that sing at night (hence the title of the book), just as God made darkness His home. Her God is a long pilgrimage starting with an entire belonging, but also allowing for a critical mind: she will protest in front of the United Nations about Him, who permitted such diversity in faith, but accepts only true believers. In her intimate moments, she suffered a terrible illness, but this is not a reason for closing herself off; for Harrison, it is a source of communication. The soul of this poet is open towards the other. It is a poetry – and a life – of relation. In this way, she confirms that most Christian postulate: that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. We hold in our hands a book of aesthetic poetry, a silent book that sounds more like messages than conversation. This is autobiographical poetry, but it has deeper roots in the Spirit, which Church Fathers describe as a fish swimming in the open sea, in God. “Like a fish in an aquarium, I am a thing of the Spirit,” writes Harrison.

Pilar Pallarés is considered one of the most evocative voices in contemporary Galician poetry. A Leopard Am I, published in Galician in 2011, is her fourth poetry collection and was awarded the poetry prize of the Galician-Language Writers Association. She has also published In the Dusk (1980), Seventh Solitude (1984, winner of the Esquío Prize for poetry) and Book of Devorations (1996, winner of the Galician Critics’ Prize for literary creation). She has written extensively on other Galician poets such as Rosalía de Castro (whose Galician Songs is published by Small Stations Press), Luís Pimentel and Ricardo Carvalho Calero. This is her first collection to appear in English.

There are three main branches in Karen Harrison’s poetry – mythological interpretation, journeying and intimate experiences. These sometimes intertwine, sometimes stay parallel. And the crown is full of movement with falling leaves at the edge of summer (her primordial sorrow) and elegant trembling of language. The movement is often a pulse. Some poems maintain their distance, others crush you with their closeness. But this is not a feminine poetry of attraction and sentiment, anticipating and inducing, it is a traveller’s poetry in which the poet floats free with her images and readers solely dependent on the river’s currents. A confirmation of Heraclitus’ ‘Everything is one’. Where rivers are trees from above.

From Unknown to Unknown is a selection of eighty poems by Manuel Rivas in Jonathan Dunne’s English translation. The poems are taken from the Galician book Do descoñecido ao descoñecido, which contains the author’s collected poems from 1980 to 2003, a total of six poetry books and some recent poems. In 2009, the author brought out a further collection, The Disappearance of Snow, which was published in English by Shearsman Books. Manuel Rivas is Galicia’s most international author. Much of his fiction has appeared in English, and three films have been made of his work (Butterfly’s Tongue, The Carpenter’s Pencil, All Is Silence).