Of Silken Waters by Denise Ryan

The distinctive voice of Irish-born Denise Ryan is strikingly captured in this debut collection of selected poems that offers an immediate entry into her world, but also expresses an implicit realism that consistently sustains their compelling thematic substance. Intuitively savvy to the nuances of words, Ryan’s poetry is a skillful modulation of her own symbolic iconography that effortlessly draws the reader into her world. Her purity of heart and courage to rise above all tragedy always finds poetic redemption bravely measured against her authenticity as a woman. As such, her poetry continually affirms the very purest of poetic expression without pretension or self-consciousness. Denise Ryan’s Of Silken Waters is a work of enduring quality and courage that maintains its light in spite of the mercurial face of darkness that surrounds us, bringing the reader to a loftier realm of spirit, to a deeper meditation on beauty, darkness, light, joy and the struggle to maintain the heart in the shadow of all adversity.

Thomas Sanfilip

Denise Ryan’s poetry has been published in THE SHOP and Crannog Literature Journal and also several online journals the most recent being Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts. She has written several poems for the Irish Famine Commemoration, receiving international recognition for her contributions. She has also been shortlisted and runner-up in several poetry competitions and is a long-term member of the Rathmines Writers Workshop.

Praise for Of Silken Waters

If André Breton and Bruno Bettelheim were to reinvent English between them, they might write poems like these. Verging on the surreal, sometimes near-hallucinatory, Denise Ryan’s poems are nevertheless emphatically of our world, plain and mesmeric at the same time. There is verve and darkness here, a headlong plunge into what language can do where every noun is on the brink of becoming a verb, and the world we think we know is always about to become very much other.

--Theo Dorgan, author of “Greek,” “Making Way,” and “Nine Bright Shiners”

Denise Ryan’s is an original, new voice that startles and delights. She brings the reader into the very sinews of her being which encompasses stars, death, love, joy, insects, animals and fields as well as the delight and pain she experiences as a woman. Unexpected metaphors tumble from her poems: a leather dress "shines like a bath full of scorpions" and cobblestone streets “close in like a confession box.” An accomplished debut collection – to read it is to know her and to taste her kaleidoscopic world.

--Padraig O’Morain, author of “The Blue Guitar”

Denise Ryan’s poems are bold and precise brushstrokes that magically weave personal tribulations with the vagaries and timelessness of the landscape that surrounds her. Ryan’s language is spare but starkly brutal, taking inventory of the wild natural beauty all around her but making sure we know there is a price to pay for engaging with this world. She carves out revealing character studies with razor-sharp wit, while hanging onto the fragile edges of her private cliff. This volume needs to be read if only for an appreciation of how skillfully this gifted poet can render people, the past, and her own fitful, soulful pilgrimage through life.

–Robert Prochaska, author of “The Horse Portraits” and “Epiphanies on the Promenade”

Hands Unfold

Time is just a back drop for the inevitable
it will come like war and winter.
I accept the idleness of distilling wait
muffled up, almost feeling
the subtle rotation of the earth.

Rain falls, pinned to eyes of frost,
threading my face with strands of snow flake.
I can hardly see through the black glove night
but the sound of ice transcends like Brahms lullaby
in super cool droplets.

The traffic fails to fracture this serenity.
Its electric fur, flies pass, like notes on a page,
the city blurring into blindness.
Shadows of fatigue dissolve under street lamp’s
their foreheads fading into slush.

A solid chill entombs me.
I catch sight of a hunched movement
plodding heavy in the grieving distance.
Its you, weighed down with groceries,
your straight back bent like a frozen frown.

I want to reach out,
but there is to much space to cross.
The sky weighs heavy on my abandonment.
The wind shudders in what might have been
Silence grows a thistle under snow.