The concrete language of Connie Roberts hits you hard; leaves a mark. You smell the brutal father’s soured Guinness breath before his next abomination; you taste the succulent orange spirited into an orphanage bed; you feel the sting of a nun’s wooden spoon, the warm piss of fear, the run of blood.
In her vivid recounting of a childhood spent in one of Ireland’s notorious industrial schools, truth hides behind no “masquerade of metaphors.” Roberts honors children, holds adults accountable, and finds acceptance, all with a reportorial rigor that, through her soaring language and big-hearted vision, achieves poetic art.
This is the poetry of rock-hard experience. It will skin your soul.
— Dan Barry, New York Times journalist and author of Pull Me Up: A Memoir
Poetry and history meet in this work in a powerful confluence of energies. Here we are given the formation of a compassionate and loving soul, and also a lens through which we are gifted a clear-eyed vision of the young Irish state. This is brave and generous work, technically accomplished, beautifully crafted and deeply moving.
— Paula Meehan, Ireland Professor of Poetry
In the arresting poems of her debut volume, Little Witness, Connie Roberts displays a stunning craft and candor. With consummate command of language, Roberts portrays a child with no command of anything, and with her dazzling dexterity of form, she depicts a woman who dignifies her memories simply by remembering without sentiment. Her poet’s progress begins in an Irish orphanage and proceeds through work and love to a full identity. Though the terror-defying journey makes the poems remarkable, and the resolute character of their speaker ennobles them, it’s their stately observations and formal fierceness that distinguish them. Each poem is a song, both shocking and hard, yet a song nonetheless, with warmth, depth, and revelation.
— Molly Peacock, author of The Second Blush and The Paper Garden
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