Author Barbara Crooker

Sage by Debra Rard Ledford (15)
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Who is Author Barbara Crooker?

Barbara Crooker is a poetry editor for Italian Americana, and author of nine full-length books of poetry; Some Glad Morning is forthcoming in the Pitt Poetry Series.  Her awards include the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award,  and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Her work appears in a variety of   anthologies, including Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, and The Bedford Introduction to Literature.

What’s your latest book all about?

Barbara Crooker’s eighth book of poetry, The Book of Kells, focuses on the illuminated medieval manuscript with a series of meditations on its various aspects, from the ink and pigments used by the scribes and illustrators to the various plants, animals, and figures depicted on its pages, including the punctuation and use of decoration in the capital letters. It also contains poems on the flora and fauna of Ireland: swans, hares, magpies, fuchsia, gorse, crocosmia, etc. that Crooker encountered during writing residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, County Monaghan. The third thread in this volume is a series of glosas, a fifteenth century Spanish form that incorporates a quatrain from other poems; here, Irish writers (Yeats, Heaney, O’Driscoll) provide the embedded lines. In her work, Crooker considers the struggle to pin lines to the page, to tie experience to the written word, to wrestle between faith and doubt,  to accept the aging body as it tries to be fully alive in the world. Crooker contrasts the Age of Faith, when the Book of Kells was created, to our modern age of doubt, and uses as her foundation the old stones of Irish myth and lore from pre-Christian times. She juxtaposes a time when the written word was laborious and sacred to our electronic world where communication by pixel is easy and brief. Above all, she captures the awe that The Word inspired in preliterate times: The world was the Book of God. The alphabet shimmered and buzzed with beauty.

How did you get the idea of writing this book?

I had applied for an international residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co. Monaghan, Ireland, and you needed a project description. I was drawn to the Book of Kells because of its artistic beauty, but came away in love with everything about it (the illustrations, the calligraphy, the materials) as I researched it for the poems.

Where can readers contact you?

My website, contains a link to my email.  Readers may also read poems I’ve published online via the “Poems” button on the right.

Books by Author Barbara Crooker

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