An Elegy for Raymond
About the Great War, Siegfried Sassoon asked Have you forgotten yet? Pam Bernard reveals in these poem narratives why we must not forget. Young Raymond arrives at the Western Front, by then a grim slash across the face / of Europe, a dreadful living thing, / a suicide of nations. From this intimate perspective she offers unflinching witness to how war is the ultimate irony. What is forbidden in the other world / is demanded of Raymond now.
Remarkably, in Blood Garden: An Elegy for Raymond, Pam Bernard is able to deliver us to the Western Front, and more specifically, to the horrors of trench warfare, and tell the story of a seventeen year old New England farm boy who fought there in the Great War. She accomplishes this by staying true to a reliable narrator’s steady voice, and by building these lean poems around surprising and deeply human insights into the war that changed human consciousness.
Blood Garden: An Elegy for Raymond is a powerful and poignant prose poem. Its vivid images—both verbal and visual—pay both homage to Pam Bernard’s father, “a soldier of the Great War,” while evoking an America at the outset of its journey from innocence to engagement in the violent world of the Twentieth Century.
—Robert H. Zieger, author of America’s Great War: The American Experience in World War I
Across The Dark
ACROSS THE DARK draws the reader into a light that reflects family and the larger world.These imaginative poems resonate with experiment: a gutsy presence that illuminates the modern psyche: "...he paints The Last Supper/ on the shell
of an almond--/ each disciple’s body a betrayal." The betrayals in this
voice are believable and curative, and backlit with human warmth.
Alternating between the lyric compression of a Louise Gluck (“making a likeness of particulars”), and the street-smart iambic narratives of a Philip Levine, with her senses open and her voice alternately open and defended, Pam Bernard's emotionally controlled yet open poems are edgy and authentic. In her quest for origins, she looks unflinchingly at absent mothering, immersing herself in memory with both compassion and a hunger to move beyond the past.This journey survives “the kingdom of ice,” moving through difficulty to a generous and tough-minded love of that sensuous sliver
of the world she's been given and in turn gives us. I found ACROSS THE DARK a very moving book.
This collection is full of threat, calamity, and grace.These poems, short and clean, employ plain diction--no minced words, no inaccessible passages, no hiding behind the spectacular. No linguistic gymnastics here. These are quiet poems often about disasterous events -- "No intervals no let up--" -- (note, not even a comma there to give us a second of reprieve at the end of SILK).They are poems where even hopelessness is rendered delicately -- "Wake into your life, where you'll float/ on your ankle plumes, and dance/with the trickster king, where/you'll get to keep nothing--/not even the shoes on your feet." -- About as dark as you can get, yes, but keep reading, read to the very last word of this book. But try, please, to read this book as it is presented to you, in order, let the poems accumulate one after the other as the poet intended. Give, please, this book that respect, and give yourself, reader, that kind
of time with this remarkable collection.
My Own Hundres Dooks
As a painter, Pam Bernard has an eye for the pathos of disproportion, asymmetry, and saturation of color. The same eye gives to her poetry a painterly fullness and a special emotional intensity…her exploration of her own formation as a woman, a painter, a thinking and feeling being, in the crucible of family, is the tale of the compellingly portrayed moments of her alert passage through the world.
— Reginald Gibbons
Pam Bernard writes lucid poems, which are compelling both for their art and their experience…She has found an easy balance between these two principles elements of poetry and has written poems that seen natural to the core. The poems are simultaneously passionate and coolly observed, as though she had just left the room where the event occurred, sat down, and—with the door still open—recorded all there was of importance to say.
— Carol Frost