Don’t judge me for dying.
Don’t judge me for still being alive.
“There is an urgency to Catherine Barry's work, a determination to take the reader's arm and make them notice the reality of the world around them. The poems contained in A Beautiful Pain are hard won, the product of lived experience and no small suffering. They are expressed in a poetic voice that is in turn angry and amused, wry and forgiving of the flaws and foibles of this very human world. There's a joyfulness here, with poems that catalogue in precise detail what it means to be alive, whether it is the Dublin of the 1970s, with Phil Lynott 'strutting down Grafton Street' or a suburban back garden, where there are branches 'pregnant with scarlet berries.' But there is social realism and political activism too; the writer is unflinching in acknowledging her own mortality and remembering the lives of those on the margins, invisible to most of us and forgotten by those who should have taken better care. Part troubador, part campaigner, Catherine Barry has written poems that are both lyrical and polemical, reminding we readers of our duty to watch, to notice, to bear witness and, ultimately, to endure.”
These are brave and tender poems from a courageous, compassionate writer. There is, in these poems, both the fierceness of survival against the odds and a real understanding of human vulnerability. These are poems of a life lived intensely, with joy and fortitude. This is a remarkable collection.
I have greatly enjoyed Catherine Barry’s brave poems about her ineradicable past, set down with both tenderness and astringency. She has a heart like a bonfire.