In the Realm of Spirit: Psalms from a Mountain
John A. Brennan
Escribe Publishing Inc.
ISBN: 9781722290641 Price: $14.95
In the Realm of Spirit: Psalms from a Mountain is prose poetry at its strongest but does not always appear in the stanza format that is usual for poetic efforts. The result is often 'somewhere in between', a state of journeying described in a prose poem of the same name: "Somewhere between the fork in the road and the narrow, overgrown path lies the way to the true destination..."
Poetry enthusiasts not wedded to the idea that verse need be measured and fit into a given format will relish John A. Brennan's diverse collection for its flowing, descriptive language of personal, cultural and physical journeys and for its metaphors and meaning. This is not to say that such a form doesn't exist, here: prose poems are interspersed with thought-provoking passages that represent a strong poetic heartbeat: "The stone-cold slab bruised hungry bones,/as he lay on the floor all alone./His life ebbed nigh, but his spirit held high,/as soon he would feast with his own."
His language strikes at the heart of mountains, men, and evolutionary processes of transformation, offering perspectives that are at once rooted in villages, mountains, and the rugged terrain of hearts and minds.
What evolves is an observational journey that follows mountains, valleys, and spiritual reflection alike: one that takes a progressive, haunting perspective as it traverses the hills and dales of an ancient land in search of those nuggets of enlightenment that stem from both a dispassionate observer and a nomad: "I’ve been down in the green valley, the holy place; the place where pagan and saint walk the blessed earth yet still, in silent mystic. The one where the river flows ever onward to its birthplace, carrying the tortured history, winding slow with measured precision, to cast upon the ocean."
Brennan juxtaposes these prose reflections with other verse that assumes the more familiar structure of poetry; but it should be noted that these are in fact psalms; and by nature can be recited, sung, or contemplated outside the usual vein of poetic literature.
The result is a set of observations, journeys, and revelations that touch upon history, moral compasses, the destinies of nations and the heart of the Irish soul. It's highly recommended for literary readers who would absorb both the history and individual impact of Ireland's ancient roots including the astute observations of "Gullion, the mountain of steep slopes."
Midwest Book Review
Editor, California Bookwatch