We come / to kneel at the doorway, / to peer into that kind of / dark. To think our way / backwards, listening. Tracing a series of journeys, real and imagined, Kelly Norah Drukker’s Small Fires opens with a section of poems set on Inis Mór, a remote, Irish-speaking island off the west coast of County Galway, where the poet-as-speaker discovers the ways in which remnants of the island’s early Christian monastic culture brush up against island life in the twenty-first century. Also present is a series of poems set in the Midi-Pyrénées and in the countryside around Lyon. Linked to the shorter poems in the collection by landscape, theme, and tone is a set of longer narrative poems that give voice to imagined speakers who are, each in a different way, living on the margins. The first describes a young emigrant woman’s crossing from Ireland to Canada in the early twentieth century, where she must sacrifice her tie to the land for the uncertain freedom of a journey by sea, while a second depicts the lives of silk workers living under oppressive conditions in Lyon in the 1830s. In detailed and musical language, the poems in Small Fires highlight aspects of landscape and culture in regions that are haunted by marginal and silenced histories. The collection concludes with a long poem written as a response to American writer Paul Monette’s autobiographical work Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir.
Kelly Norah Drukker’s work has appeared in journals in Canada, the UK, and Ireland. She lives in Montreal.
"Small Fires, makes a quietly strong debut. Equal parts still and motioned, with strands picturesque and narrative, the poems take us to the landscapes and histories of the remote Irish-speaking island of Inis Mór, to the Midi-Pyrénées, and to the country
“The poems are deliberate and passionate, sensuous. Drukker invites the reader not only into her thoughts, but into the landscape and into the spirit of the people. The reader can smell the atmosphere, see the clouds, feel the rain, hear the gulls.” Conco
“… a petit and exquisite book of journeys. Much more than a poetic travelogue, it is a quiet homage to places and cultures that Drukker inhabits fully and allows herself to be smitten by. Drukker speaks clearly in language transparent as wind, attuned to
“Drukker possesses the kind of eye that locates and zeroes in on the most important detail in her field of vision, yet also somehow gives the impression of seeing everything at once. The result is far more than poems-as-travelogue, then: it’s a moving med
“The power of this work derives from a careful letting objects speak for themselves, where details tell all there is to know. Like love letters that tear apart brutal secrets of land, legacy, and the breaking down that occurs in the shadows, this collecti
“If one were to make a colour palette for Small Fires, it would be a watercolour of stones and derelict wood greys, dusky blues, a smear of rainy green through a window, the creosote of town, as rage by morning dies down to “murmur / through stovepipes.”” Montreal Review of Books