The reader might be justified in thinking that the M in the title of Colette Bryce’s new collection could stand for ‘Mortality’, ‘Mourning’, or the spontaneous and cathartic practice of the writer’s ‘morning pages’ – until they reach the book’s arresting central sequence. Addressed to a named ‘M’ who has suddenly died, this fourteen-part poem depicts the experience of unexpected bereavement, and the altering effect such events have on the living. It does so unflinchingly, gracefully and honestly, as Bryce harnesses her characteristic insight, forensic eye and tightly-woven music to deeply moving ends – while demonstrating again why she is regarded as one of the leading Irish poets of the age. As the book unfolds, it becomes clear that her other subjects – of family, travel, history and ageing – all orbit the gravitational centre of ‘The M Pages’. What emerges is an important book about love, fear, self-censorship and the limits of our knowledge, and what we can and cannot say about some of the most profound events we face.
“Reminiscent of one of this century’s great elegies, Denise Riley’s ‘A Part Song’, The M Pages is similarly probing, hurt, skeptical and smarting. Bryce is a poet of great assurance, and this sequence alone makes the book a necessary addition to the library of readers interested in contemporary Irish writing.” The Irish Times
“like all great poets she makes it new, reminding us of what’s left to be said. It’s at those times when language strains and fails that poets step up to the mark, and that’s precisely what Bryce does in this superb new collection.” High Windows