Praise for Blood Garden:
Remarkably, in Blood Garden: An Elegy for Raymond, Pam Bernard is able to deliver us to the Western Front, and more specifically, to the horrors of trench warfare, and tell the story of a seventeen year old New England farm boy who fought there in the Great War. She accomplishes this by staying true to a reliable narrator’s steady voice, and by building these lean poems around surprising and deeply human insights into the war that changed human consciousness. —Bruce Weigl
Praise for previous collections:
Across the Dark draws the reader into a light that reflects family and the larger world. These imaginative poems resonate with experiment: a gutsy presence that illuminates the modern psyche: ...he paints The Last Supper/ on the shell of an almond—/ each disciple’s body a betrayal. The betrayals in this voice are believable and curative, and backlit with human warmth.
— Yusef Komunyakaa
Alternating between the lyric compression of a Louise Gluck (making a likeness of particulars), and the street-smart iambic narratives of a Philip Levine, with her senses open and her voice alternately open and defended, Pam Bernard's emotionally controlled yet open poems are edgy and authentic. In her quest for origins, she looks unflinchingly at absent mothering, immersing herself in memory with both compassion and a hunger to move beyond the past. This journey survives the kingdom of ice, moving through difficulty to a generous and tough-minded love of that sensuous sliver of the world she's been given and in turn gives us.
This collection is full of threat, calamity, and grace. These poems, short and clean, employ plain diction—no minced words, no inaccessible passages, no hiding behind the spectacular. No linguistic gymnastics here. These are quiet poems often about disastrous events –-- No intervals no let up — (note, not even a comma there to give us a second of reprieve at the end of SILK). They are poems where even hopelessness is rendered delicately —Wake into your life, where you'll float/ on your ankle plumes, and dance/with the trickster king, where /you'll get to keep nothing--/not even the shoes on your feet. —About as dark as you can get, yes, but keep reading, read to the very last word of this book. But try, please, to read this book as it is presented to you, in order, let the poems accumulate one after the other as the poet intended. Give, please, this book that respect, and give yourself, reader, that kind of time with this remarkable collection. —Martha Rhodes
As a painter, Pam Bernard has an eye for the pathos of disproportion, asymmetry, and saturation of color. The same eye gives to her poetry a painterly fullness and a special emotional intensity…her exploration of her own formation as a woman, a painter, a thinking and feeling being, in the crucible of family, is the tale of the compellingly portrayed moments of her alert passage through the world. — Reginald Gibbons
Pam Bernard writes lucid poems, which are compelling both for their art and their experience…She has found an easy balance between these two principles elements of poetry and has written poems that seen natural to the core. The poems are simultaneously passionate and coolly observed, as though she had just left the room where the event occurred, sat down, and—with the door still open—recorded all there was of importance to say. — Carol Frost
An Elegy for Raymond
In his essay entitled
The Hour Of Poetry,
John Berger writes:
"Poetry makes language care because it renders everything intimate. This intimacy is the result of the poem’s labour, the result of the bringing-together-into-intimacy of every act and noun and event and perspective to which the poem refers. There is often nothing more substantial to place against the cruelty and indifference of the world than this caring." Berger’s caring extends to the notion of all art, and is, I believe, the thing that moves us. I am touched by this voice, rising up from objects, and from the page, just as we hear something in anonymous scribblings in the margins of a used book. It is in the margins of our senses, perhaps — in that region of correspondence — where we might connect emotionally with another. Inexplicable, unlocatable, it is, nevertheless, a region for which I strive in my paintings and poems.