Reading Steve Denehan’s debut collection of poems ‘Miles Of Sky Above Us, Miles Of Earth Below’ has given me a lot to think about, including how to start talking about poetry and where it sits in my everyday cultural landscape.
This collection found me by chance and Twitter. I guess getting so enthusiastic about Roseanne Watt’s amazing ‘Moder Dy’ might have been why Isabelle Kenyon asked me if I’d like to join the blog tour for this book. If she hadn’t it’s not something I’d ever have come across. My small local branch of Waterstones has a poetry section that looks like it’s mostly intended for the gift market full of classics, a handful of well known contemporary poets, and gold embossed hardbacks. It’s all good stuff, but not the place to find anything new.
I don’t think there’s much chance of coming across a book like this in the review sections of the weekend newspapers I’m likely to buy - it’s not mainstream enough. I’m not following enough poets or poetry readers across any form of social media to hear much about what’s happening, although I can at least do something about that.
I do read poetry, but rarely without feeling somewhat self conscious about it, that feeling intensifies exponentially when it comes to talking about it, and again, I’m wondering why this is? Those gift worthy editions of the great and good in my local bookshop have a self conscious air about them too, I can’t be alone in this.
‘Miles Of Sky Above Us, Miles Of Earth Below’ meanwhile has been gently showing me what I’ve been missing by not looking a little harder for what’s out there. There are 118 poems here that cover all kinds of things, most of them everyday thoughts. Reading them brings a warm glow of recognition; the feeling of meeting a friend unexpectedly in the street, or sharing a joke. My favourite (today at least) is ‘Tea’ which speaks of the satisfaction to be found in small personal rituals.
The way Denehan writes about his daughter is beautiful too. I’m much more used to reading about mother love, so personally this feels like a necessary bit of balance - giving words to the feelings I see in s many of the fathers I know.
There is so much more in this collection than I can talk about in a single blog post, some things which elicit such a personal response I’m not sure I would want to write about them at all. I’m really grateful that chance (and Twitter) did bring this book my way. Look Steve up, there’s a good bit of his work out there, follow him on Twitter - he comes across as a remarkably nice man, follow the rest of this tour, and definitely consider buying his books.