“Some of the poems in this luminescent collection address childhood, in particular its dreams and dramas. They give an impression of the magical sense of that time whilst also encompassing its very real pains: “when i was young / i held in the palm of my hand / the wonders the heartbreaks…” Intertwined with these are poems dealing with the loss of a parent that are more generally suffused with sadness: “i need to remember you / i’m still listening still here…”
The immediacy of recent grief combines with this, looking further back to give an impression of a poet seeking pattern. Those hurts from childhood have been transmuted to meaning already, as in the poem Traces – in which Yerem details the reasons for what we imagine are bodily scars, but the ‘scar’ of a more recent loss has not yet been reasoned. Neither is that scar physical, as is alluded to in another poem, Fifty: “the branches ripping my trousers, my heart…” The title poem of this collection, which revolves around the imagined receipt of ‘signs’, further supports this interpretation – that the poet is attempting to resolve her grief.
Altogether, St Eisenberg… is highly emotive stuff that greatly affects the reader, but additionally there’s a pleasing pace and form to many pieces, and a knack of adding just enough detail – of place, people, or objects – to ‘paint’ the scene (often a memory) and bring it springing to life. It’s in poetry that we can remember, recall, but, more than this, reanimate and give a lasting ‘life’ through our words: a theme evoked in one poem, the making. In the following poem to this, shelves, rooms, houses are shown not to last, but this neat poem pairing reinforces the idea that poetry and words may do. Wrought, realistic, personal, and profound, these are tender and poignant works.”
Mab Jones, poet
Annick Yerem’s collection, St Eisenberg and the Sunshine Bus, reads like a masterclass in ‘what unites us’, written with skill, wit, passion, and generosity of spirit. Written from her own, very personal grief, she navigates emotional landscapes with innovative imagery and phrasing, connecting with collective grief and individual struggle during the first year of the pandemic, and beyond: the power of the specific to illustrate the universal. When a poet so willingly shares and illustrates deeply vulnerable feeling, it invites a humbling and healing immersion into its safe space…a salve not only for this moment in our time, but also, I feel, for our collective future.
Mo Schoenfeld, poet, writer
‘St Eisenberg & the Sunshine Bus’ is a beautiful lament, a heartbreakingly tender keening that transcends any tangled fragility of the past as the author navigates her way beyond loss & grief with gifted words in a unique language of otter-shaped love
Rhona Greene, poet, writer