Nature is not only celebrated in Castle’s poetry, but suffused with a sense of the sacred. Her use of the title word ‘triptych’ is telling: a triptych (from the Greek triptykhos meaning ‘three-layered’) is an artwork in three parts, usually religious. As a convent-educated daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants to England, she is well versed in church traditions, and her poetry is steeped in a sense of the liminal, of finding herself hovering on the thresholds of worlds—the secular and the spiritual, Ireland and England.
The Density of Compact Bone is a visionary book by a poet who is also an accomplished novelist, reviewer and interviewer. Structured in four parts, it is a layered and deeply poignant collection, permeated by the twin themes of ecological precariousness and human connectedness.
In every poetry collection, there is one aspect, one overwhelming impression, that we are left with which later comes to define it for us. In Frank’s Wide River, it is the poet’s quiet insistence on reawakening us to the essential wonder of our world that stays with us.
Issue 31. A dazzling and wise debut: Linda Adair reviews ‘The Beating Heart’ by Denise O’Hagan.