‘Berry is that rare thing, a truly substantial, original, new voice . . .’
– Fiona Sampson, The Irish Times
Reading Ovid on a transatlantic flight while registering concerns for his new-born son (‘How can we keep him from the harm this world can be . . .’), conjuring a mirage in the West of Ireland a century ago, and evoking teenage longing and lusts in recreations of ‘the morning after the night before’, Ciaran Berry’s powerfully resonant second collection focuses also on Nero’s circus in full swing and the thoughts of St Augustine, the pathologist who kept Einstein’s brain, Darwin’s expeditions and discoveries, a Japanese ghost ship adrift after a tsunami, and the ‘Beltway’ sniper attacks of 2002.
The formal thrust of Ciaran Berry’s purposeful art attests to ‘the dead still living / on the living page’ and the lives preserved in, and beyond, a museum of natural history, the ‘dead zoo’ of the book’s title. Here poems straddle the ages and the ocean between the author’s home place and a new home in America as they confirm his ‘extraordinary range and maturity . . . virtuosity . . . and originality that lies in the sustained sophistication of poetic thought’ (The Irish Times).