What the Critics Have Said
Warning: shameless self-promotion
About Neile Graham
1997 Bumbershoot Schedule:
Neile Graham's poetry is breathtaking and stern, abducting her audience into a realm of disturbing yet beautiful detail and experience.
Barry Dempster, Arc 46 (Summer 2001):
This is rich stuff, daring both rant and rhapsody, crafted with much imaginative skill. The book is arranged in all sorts of interesting, challenging designs.... Graham creates a lovely blend of urgency and subtlety making many of the poems not only page turners, but something to savour as well. Her descriptions always stretch out expectations with just the right lilt, the perfect detail...I love how intensely she leads us into greater and greater complexities, history and mythology and the most secretive parts of the heart all colliding in a grand burst of energy...the page lighting up like a meteor shower.
Ronnie R. Brown, Canadian Bookseller:
Imagine compressing the history of woman into poetry. Well, in her third collection of poems, Blood Memory, Neile Graham has done just that. ...Blood Memory is a true tour de force. ... Using every poetic "colour" imaginable, Blood Memory paints vivid pictures of generations of women, past and present. Pictures that will remain in a reader's mind, long after the book's covers are closed.
Deena Lewis, LitRag 11:
Neile Graham skillfully and lyrically guides the reader down the path of the past to the present...the collection reads like a richly assembled quilt. ... Blood Memory is an eloquent and dramatic look at the cycle of life and the vision and circumstances that tie women together and divide them from themselves.
matt robinson, The League of Canadian Poets Poetry Spoken Here Webstore:
The stories are distinct, original. The manner in which they are woven together allows the individual pieces in the collection to not only function alone, but to further resonate in and with the accompaniment of the rest. The voices become a conversation, they speak to (and of) each other. The effect is stunning.
As the cycles in the book--the "Remnants" poems, the "Story" poems, and especially the "Mairie" poems--swirl across and around each other, the cumulative effect is startling. Graham approaches the everyday experiences of her voices, her speakers, and illuminates them. She allows us access to the wonderful subtleties that define and differentiate individual lives. The pieces in Blood Memory lament, interrogate, and, finally, celebrate the various lives and voices of the women with whom they deal. They do so in a subtle, yet distinct, poetic style.
University Bookstore, Seattle WA (Staff Favorite Notice Card):
Neile Graham goes beyond the clarity of vision of good poetry and achieves the insights hidden in the appearances of ordinary things. This book is truly a work of visionary brilliance.
Stefan Haag, Canadian Literature 161-162 (1999):
When reading Neile Graham's Spells for Clear Vision, one feels in the presence of a poet who has the rare talent of integrating private experiences (or public ones filtered through the personal eye) with powerful language.
Bert Almon, Canadian Book Review Annual (1994):
Neile Graham's second book is a distinguished collection, with considerable range in theme and style.... Her diction is always straightforward and her meanings are clear but her work is not superficial. ...All in all this is indeed a collection of "spells for clear vision."
Sandra Nicholls, Arc 36 (Spring 1996):
In the pure exuberant joy of her words we find the "gathered magic" of the physical world. Her descriptions are startling... and at times their lilt is almost Shakespearean.... She uncovers the hidden world of the tentative yet inevitable, the passage of weather and seasons, which seem to echo the persistence of memory itself. ...This is a luminous, almost visionary book, a treasure to be read and re-read.
Liam C. Rodrigues, Canadian Review of Materials II:10/11 (December 22, 1995):
The poems do cast spells--not of incantation but of consequence; not of recipe and formula, but of affect and transformation... although Spells is couched in mysticism, it is also the poetry of everyday life, and a celebration of the magical forces therein.
Liliane Welch, The New Brunswick Reader (January 27, 1996):
In this deeply moving book with its riveting and refreshing timbre, its epiphanies and magic, the natural forces of air, fire and water play centre stage. The sagacious voice of the poet needs no fancy strategies; her humble luminosity and chaste style make these poems a pleasure to read. Her faith and acts of devotion fire in us the exhilaration of being addressed by great poetry, of dancing in a rhythmically formed world. With Graham's Spells for Clear Vision, Canadian poetry is enriched by a beautiful homage to impassioned writing and a praise for our natural abode.
N.M. Drutz, Canadian Book Review Annual (1983):
...A sensitive first book; the poet communicates her intense rapport with nature with insight and perception, and she gives us a sense of history, the "long slow motion of time" that we are all part of.
Kevin Irie, Event 13.2 (1984):
When one reads Neile Graham's book Seven Robins... there is [a] sense of darkness, mystery, and intelligence that can shed light on the most shadowy recesses of the natural world and the self. ...If the landscape is harsh, so are the dynamics of human relationships, and Graham writes of them in bracing, vivid poetry... indeed, Ms. Graham offers her readers "window into several worlds;" and in each case, the view is exciting. Neile Graham is a poet worth watching and reading...a poet of technical polish, literary skill and much personal intensity.
Smaro Kamboureli, Canadian Literature 103:
Her poems, exciting in their precision of diction and imagery, speak of silence.... Graham's power lies in her ability to trace language within the silence that permeates her world.
Bette Thiebes, CutBank:
Ms. Graham's work is unusually intelligent and courageous. Seven Robins is a gift for which we should be grateful.
last revised 22 July 2001
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