Mairead Byrne,
(Wild Honey Press, 2005)

The poems in Mairead Byrne's collection Vivas proffer a number of snapshots from life and art. The slim, handsome volume opens with "Door," a short poem. "When you left / it was as if / one wall of the house / was taken down" reads the first of two stanzas. It showcases Byrne's ability to give a few short lines a lot of power. The four-line verse encapsulates the weight of loss, which can arise out of a loved one leaving.

That first poem is just eight lines, 26 words. Such economy is balanced by a number of prose poems at the end of the book. Four prose poems -- three titled "Pitch" and one called "Meet Steve" -- use a very informal conversational style of language to convey an idea. The three "Pitch" poems are in the form of movies pitches, each using Hollywood film references -- actors' names, etc. -- to fill in a film idea.

The "Meet Steve" poem has the poet describe a partner, the eponymous Steve, who is father to her children and "a good-tempered man. He's not one to whine. Steve is the sort of guy who puts others' needs before his own. You know the type: he'll bring you chicken noodle soup in bed even when he's got the flu himself. He's just kind & generous & considerate." He certainly sounds like a great guy.

In between there are poems about bagels (eaten ones), savings accounts, sculptures and milk bottles. "At the Y" is a tantalizing paean to the female genital area. "Fierce dark triangle / at junction of thighs / smooth body streaming / from cubicle - / oh glorious sight" runs the poem in entirety.

Mairead Byrne's poems are immediate and accessible, (post?)modern and at times fun. Hers is a voice that can certainly make poetry human. And that's saying something.

by Sean Walsh
9 September 2006