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Selected Comments/Reviews

for Dinner at Madonna's

Irie's work is beautifully restrained as it moves from Toronto to Italy to British Columbia, and out of that restraint comes some truly arresting images…The strength of Dinner is the frequency with which Irie lets such images speak for themselves, avoiding the temptation to overwrite them or buy them in commentary.
                      —Ian Samuels, The Calgary Herald


The collection takes us sequentially from the streets of Toronto's Little Italy to the historically rich arteries of Venice, then back to Canada with a new, widened perspective…The work moves from distanced observation of others' migrations to greater and greater intimacy.
                      —Sonnet L'Abbe, The Globe and Mail


Here is a poet with a particular past walking through the streets of Venice and Toronto, through art galleries and back alleys, through familiar and foreign mythologies, startling us, arresting us with each unexpected turn of his heart and mind.
                      —Joy Kogawa


for Angel Blood: The Tess Poems

Adopting the posthumous voice of a wronged girl from 19th century fiction makes for a bold imaginative leap on Irie's part. Yet he enters into Tess's situation so thoughtfully, and his diction is so exact, that he ends up making a success of it.
                      —Harry Vandervlist, Alberta Views


The narrative is interesting on a number of levels: because it is written in Tess's voice, because it is reflective (we hear from Tess as a spirit), because it is a commentary on the way women were treated at the time of Hardy's novel and because it is a male poet writing from a woman's perspective. Irie succeeds in creating a strong narrative and his lines seduce readers into Tess's world.
                      —Jocelyn Grosse, Fast Forward


Angel Blood is a clever palimpsest that re-positions the dramatic monologue and Tess's intimate thoughts squarely in our time and place. In the end, her character emerges as complex, clever, manipulative, decidedly in-control; we sympathize with her plight but cheer on her feminine wiles. Kevin Irie's narrative gifts and use of dramatic, verbal, and situational irony are an endless source of delight. Readers will want to return to the salacious gossip and pick up on the metafictional gloss on point of view and narrative strategy-its duplicitous, devious meanderings-at the same time.
                      —Richard Stevenson, Lethbridge Insider


Tapping into the emotions of willful Tess Durbeyfield of Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Kevin Irie gestures to the reader to overhear her intimate thoughts, and there are heart-quickening moments aplenty: "I felt my childhood leave without me," "He would be what I earn for my living," "Where do you find the mercy to grieve for yourself?" "A woman gone missing from her own life." I could continue in this vein, but it is better for the reader to discover such intimacies in this book of poems about a literary character who is either a woman who is pure or a "pure woman."
                      —John Robert Colombo


for The Colour of Eden

..a beautiful second book of poems.
                      —Libby Scheier, The Toronto Star


A small, special volume of poems about nature. There are places we've seen and places we'll seek out now that we've been introduced. It is an evocative reminder to look at what is around us with new perceptions and a sense of place.
                      —City of Toronto Book Award citation, 1997


for Burning The Dead

..an accomplished and finely chiseled suite of lyrical and serial narrative poems.
                      —Richard Stevenson, Canadian Literature



Kevin Irie's works copyright © to the author.


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