the light we cannot see
Page Count: 98
Publication Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Cover Artwork: Jerome Gardes Instagram: @urbex_abandoned_ Web: flickr.com/photos/urbex_abandoned_/
About this Book
"Anne Casey’s The Light We Cannot See aches with loveliness even as it warns against humanity’s pervasive damage to the environment. Poem after elegant, ecocritical poem showcases Casey’s grasp of the environmental crises we have created in the Anthropocene—whether it’s the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef ("Where once she danced"), the Australian wildfires ("This is not a drill"), or the rising ocean levels ("At sea"). But she interweaves each poem with such a profound beauty that we cannot help but to remember that at least with poetry, humans have created something good. This is a work that breaks your heart with its almost elegiac approach to ecology and the Earth—and yet, Casey offers that scintilla of hope that with human change, all is not lost ("Either way, the fact remains"). A wonderful and staggering collection of poetry."
"Anne Casey’s poetry is a revelation. Her work effortlessly moves between the metaphysical and the sensual, the concrete and the lyrical, the inspirational and the earthly. Encountering The Light We Cannot See is to encounter a whole range of human experience evoked with poignancy, poise and grace. It’s the sort of work that lodges within and stays vivid long after reading."
“Anne Casey’s brilliant new collection of poetry is her best work yet — lyrical, experimental, musical and technically sophisticated. Casey engages passionately with urgent global, local and personal issues, from climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic to exile, motherhood, loss and acceptance. Writing in the tradition of Boland, Heaney and Yeats, she exhibits a mastery of form and subject, crafting beautiful, irrefutable appeals to our emotions, ethics and logic.”
“There is great humanity in these poems, a willingness to be vulnerable and open to emotion. It is matched by a gift for words, an instinct for what can be said and what can only be implied, alongside a true poet’s love of the sound and texture of spoken language, whether pronounced out loud or inwardly towards the mind’s attentiveness. Family, grief, death and separation recur across these poems, but so equally do the tactile sensations of being alive in this world. Landscapes and weather-scapes, birds and animals, urban chatter and quiet open spaces abound in these engaging poems that explore life as it unfolds in the ominous 21st Century.”
“In this luminous and searing new collection, Anne Casey invites us into her world of ghosts from the old country rearing up in the new and enthralls us with her evocations and invocations, while planting her uncompromising political, yet beautifully softly-gloved fist, in our hypocrisies. This is a book to carry us through the darkness and guide us to ‘the light we cannot yet see’ in poems that are modern masterpieces.”
About this book
the light we cannot see traverses a globe caught in the combined turmoil of the climate crisis, COVID-19 and humanitarian unrest, as seen through the eyes of a mother worried for her children’s futures and an exiled daughter struggling with loss and separation from loved ones in her native Ireland. Navigating the path of these apocalyptic spheres and their devastating impacts — including catastrophic bushfires in her adopted homeland of Australia — the poet strives throughout this collection of award-winning poems to connect with our “one persisting challenge — to somehow find our allied humanity”. A probing reflection on the human condition, this book leans always towards “the light we cannot yet see, but know lies ahead”.
Originally from west Clare in Ireland, and living in Sydney, Australia, Anne Casey is an award-winning poet and writer, and author of two previous, critically acclaimed poetry collections—where the lost things go (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and out of emptied cups (Salmon Poetry, 2019). She has worked for 30 years as a journalist, magazine editor, media communications director and legal author. Senior Poetry Editor of Other Terrain and Backstory literary journals (Swinburne University, Melbourne) from 2017-2020, she serves on numerous literary advisory boards. Anne’s writing and poetry are widely published internationally and rank in The Irish Times newspaper’s Most-Read.
She has won/shortlisted for poetry prizes in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the USA, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia, including: the American Writers Review Contest; The Plough Prize; ACU Prize for Poetry; Henry Lawson Poetry Competition; Women’s National Book Association of USA Poetry Competition; 25th Annual Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Competition; Hennessy New Irish Writing; Cúirt International Poetry Prize; Overton Poetry Prize; Bedford International Writing Competition; Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest; Tom Collins Poetry Prize (Fellowship of Australian Writers, Western Australia); and, Fellowship of Australian Writers Queensland Literary Competition.
Anne passionately believes that every poem, like all art, should leave us changed by the experience. Her poems feature internationally in newspapers, magazines, journals, anthologies, broadcasts, podcasts, music albums, stage shows and art exhibitions—The Irish Poetry Reading Archive (James Joyce Library, University College Dublin), The Irish Times, The Canberra Times, Australian Poetry Anthology, Griffith Review, Atlanta Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Tahoma Literary Review, Quiddity, Entropy, apt, The Murmur House, Barzakh (State University of New York), DASH (California State University), Connecticut River Review, The Stony Thursday Book, FourXFour (Poetry Northern Ireland), Westerly Magazine, Cordite Poetry Review, Voices of Women and Plumwood Mountain among many others.
She holds a Law Degree from University College Dublin and qualifications in Media Communications from Dublin Institute of Technology (Technological University Dublin). She is the recipient of an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship for her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney.
Website: anne-casey.com Social Media: @1annecasey
Author Photo: David Clare, First Light Photography
Read a sample from this book
I saw a crow catch
another’s ragged black
towards the carmine
splay of dying
light on the horizon.
Three nights before
we stumbled on
the bundle of
curled on its side,
as if asleep.
He didn’t look
as if asleep
from the living
room of your childhood
stiffly in his casket.
It feels like sacrilege
of this—like the line
I wrote three nights before:
fearing they may not
survive the long wait
till we might arrive.
online through two
days and nights—
up out of night’s
black wing, a ripple
...full of grace
...at the hour of our death.
Small silver minnows
up the numb
length of tongue
flutter at stiff lips.
I caught a black crow:
one ragged wing
spiraling in, the rest
the great rent
in his beautiful field.
The wrench of this
where you laboured
over his mighty beech—
felled by wild winds—
its breadth half his height.
Your breath laboured
at this great wrench:
the length of him
the coffin lid—stiffly
upright, the dying light
caught in its brass cross.
We stumble on
as if asleep
the splay of dying,
the numb length
I talk about my mother
dying, tell you
silver minnows, lying:
there is nothing
natural in burying
your father online.
I catch your black
in the ragged
splay of dying light,
together we spiral
towards the thin
(‘Prayer-fish’ was awarded 2nd prize in the Crosswinds Poetry Contest 2021 (USA) and was commended in the Tom Collins Poetry Prize 2020 (Fellowship of Australian Writers, Western Australia).
At twelve, he’s too old to believe
in monsters I think as we huddle,
faces swarming with swirling
colours from his bedside lamp, medusas
undulating in watery obscurity, fear clouding
his ordinary radiance and my heart
a snared hummingbird: the unanswered
question my bright-eyed boy flounders around
always in darkness—shut down to
his daylight wonder: rushing to greet
the leaf-tailed gecko (long-time resident behind
our outdoor couch) which recently produced a tiny replica,
the brush turkey tightrope-strutting
the length of the fence, wide-eyed possums
glinting from dusky branches as his teenage brother
grumbles past to sort trash and practice his cynicism
What’s the point? My teacher says they don’t
get recycled anyway… trust crumbling like the dust
of so many cicada skins so eagerly plucked
from nearby swamp oaks—spectral sentinels,
those exoskeleton twins left to witness the fading
Please don’t bulldoze this appeals falling
on deaf ears—a whole forest nobody hears
destined to be carted off in mulching trucks
under orders of our neighbour, the State Premier,
who visited his school to shake hands
before writing off our precious bushland—
where once he bobbed bound to my heart,
cooing as we ducked a troupe
of black cockatoos swooping through,
toddled to the counting of water dragons,
ran to track that elusive rock wallaby,
raced to chase white tiger
moths; stopped to probe bandicoot
droppings (with a stick); chewed over the albino galah,
anaemic anomaly amidst its pink flock—all signed off
to make way for a new motorway
with its undercover proviso: a thirty-year no
public transport clause—artificial sweetener
for behind-the-scenes dealers, while it seems
around us the whole world is burning or drowning
as we flail against federal plans pledging certain
destruction to Earth’s largest living structure—
where at three he paddled off, lost in wonder
and each year since, we’ve gurgled together
through butterfly shoals, skirting bug eyed
reef sharks, jump-scaring at feinting parrotfish,
gaping through fogging goggles at giant clams and brain
corals where we swam shoulder-to-shoulder
with an ancient turtle, before
bubbling back up to the surface like
his unanswerable question:
Where will they go Mum, when
all the trees are gone? And the reef?
A thousand tiny wings
skip a beat as I bend
to kiss his pillowed cheek
wanting so much to lie
to him that the monsters scratching
at his windows aren’t real.
(‘Night traps’ was awarded 1st prize in the International Proverse Poetry Prize 2020; was a finalist in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest 2020; and was longlisted for The Plough Prize 2019).
Either way, the fact remains
There is no way back
Therefore we can no longer hold as irrefutable truth that
Every human heart has sufficient good at its core
That we could muster the collective will necessary to save our precious planet
There is no denying
We are capable of taking the measures necessary for our own survival
To secure the future for us and the almost nine million species around us
We could make the right choices
The fact remains that
Earth cannot repair itself
There is no basis even from advanced satellite findings to show that
Earth and all who dwell on her can survive the impacts of human activities
The greatest scientific minds of our time attest that
The world’s largest living structure, the Great Barrier Reef, is on-path to certain destruction
Over two thousand species from sea-level to two thousand metres deep are destined to perish
We can no longer support the assertion that
There is always a way—
There is a way to undo the damage we have done—
Allowing that we make every effort to counter global excesses
The impact of human activities is irreversible
Although we may think
That we can take action to fix this
We cannot deny the inevitability
That not one of us can make a difference
Nature cannot heal itself
We can no longer lie to ourselves that
This devastation can be reversed
(Now read each line from the bottom up.)
(‘Either way, the fact remains’ was awarded 3rd prize in the International Provers Poetry Prize 2019 and was nominated for The Pushcart Prize 2020 by Beltway Poetry Quarterly in the USA.)
All Poems Copyright © Anne Casey 2021