Some of the Things I've Seen
Wake Forest University Press, 2023
In her newest collection, Sara Berkeley follows a number of sightlines: watching the landscape from the window of a plane, contemplating the effects of climate change, witnessing human vulnerability and resilience as a hospice nurse during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Her gaze traces the coastlines of the Pacific Ocean and moves with a coyote through the California desert to the Palio horse race in Sienna, a return to Ireland, and a migration to upstate New York. A marriage ends, forest fires spread, and a new love takes root in winter.
Throughout, Berkeley maintains a tender awareness of the threats that surround us, and the poetic insight we will all need to survive.
The Last Cold Day
The Gallery Press, 2022
The Last Cold Day is the Irish edition of Some of the Things I've Seen. The poems in Sara Berkeley's seventh poetry collection are alert to climate threat, conjuring memories of fires sending up 'their smoky prayers' and 'the ice [that] sings its long last song, / a requiem.'
The Last Cold Day charts a move across America from California to New York's Hudson Valley. It records the author's life as a hospice nurse at the frontlines of the epidemic, the lessons of the dying and the life that goes on. In poems praised by Dermot Bolger for their 'poise and sharply minted clarity,' Sara Berkeley records a return visit to her native Ireland as well as a new love and marriage.
What Just Happened
The Gallery Press, 2015
Sentient Publications, 2016
Sara Berkeley's sixth collection begins: "I'd like my heart / to be without conditions, / to crack each day a little more open," an ambition these vibrant, airy poems explore in the book's copious reach. As Wes Davis observed in his Harvard Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry, 'her rich poems and her sharp eye for details of the natural world are given a resonant tension by the stretched ties to her native country.'
The View From Here
The Gallery Press, 2010
"I loved my life with a fierce joy" Sara Berkeley proclaims in her fifth collection. Since she published her first poems at the age of sixteen, Sara Berkeley has been a distinctive, vibrant witness to the way people live. Again and again she finds reasons 'to march down Main Street / in your boots with your trumpet / and your heart in a suitcase.' Whether she considers Ireland from afar or her adopted California home, night horses or her young daughter, the bewitching poems of The View From Here resonate with thrilling details and surprise.
The Gallery Press, 2005
Sara Berkeley's fourth collection opens with a suite of poems that celebrate her daughter's birth: "Hail to her, and sunlight, and spirit songs." From the delicate detail of the unborn child who 'brushed me with her lashes' to its broad geographic sweep,Strawberry Thief bustles with life and color and music. All the while, however, as it promotes the value of what she calls the 'generous mercies,' her inventive, resolute voice learns 'how today is made.' Strawberry Thief is a book of startling recognitions and revelations. Its rich exotic sensual poems carry 'the moment aloft / brimming, like water in a silver cup.'
Facts About Water
Bloodaxe Books, UK; New Island Books, Ireland; Thistledown Press, Canada, 1994
Sara Berkeley's first collection of poems was published when she was just 19, and was shortlisted for both the Irish Book Awards and the Sunday Tribune Arts Awards. Facts About Water includes some of the best work from Penn (1986) and Home Movie Nights (1989) as well as a collection of new poems.
Berkeley's poetry evokes a personal world with, as Eavan Boland has said, 'a great sense of expansion and eloquence.' The elements of fire and water run through her poems, tensed with a precocious knowledge of violence, sorrow, and death, but buoyed by energy and joyfulness.
Home Movie Nights
The Raven Arts Press, Ireland;
Thistledown Press, Canada, 1989
Few writers have received such critical acclaim on their debut as Sara Berkeley, whose first collection of poems, Penn, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and Sunday Tribune Arts Awards. Home Movie Nights continues the rich evocation of the landscape which she has made distinctly her own, a world without frontiers or barriers that recalls, as one reviewer noted, "the kind of poetry written in Eastern Europe and Germany after the Second World War, poems unequaled in their delineation of, and witness to, new levels in human consciousness."
Published on both sides of the Atlantic by Raven Arts Press and Thistledown Press of Saskatchewan, Home Movie Nights reveals the astonishing variety and depth of her perception. The reader who enters this world, with what Eavan Boland has called its 'great sense of expansion and eloquence' will not easily shed the impact of this exciting poet.
Raven Arts Press, 1986
"In all my poetry readings I have never read from anyone else's work with the exception of a poem by Sara Berkeley, Curious George, composed when she was fifteen years old. For me, Sara Berkeley is the most naturally gifted poet to emerge in Ireland since Michael Hartnett in 1960." - Paul Durcan