Tenebrae

Tenebrae

“Mink Eyes” introduces us to Max McBride the novelist.  “Tenebrae” shows us another side of Max – the poet. The lead poem in this collection, “Tenebrae: A Memoir of Love and Death,” is a lovely bracelet of verse and prose poems that link brilliantly together in a gripping narrative and wrenching emotional journey through the illness and death of his wife. Other poems in the book – including several snapshot portraits of Max’s extended family under the title “The Irish in America” – reflect this same grappling with the fundamental issues of our lives – loss, change, growth, hope, despair and acceptance, reflecting throughout a compassionate embrace of the human condition. These are truly poems for the people – plain but exquisitely crafted, direct as a dagger, and expressed in a language that is both elegant and easy to understand at the same time. They reach from the heart to the heart.

Tenebrae can be purchased at Amazon, Kindle Store, or local booksellers nationwide.  For a signed copy or bulk orders, please contact us.

From the Foreword by Matthew Lippman
Author of The New Year of Yellow, Monkey Bars, Salami Jew, and American Chew:

     “Max McBride is a visionary poet. His series of poems, Tenebrae: A Memoir of Loveand Death, based on an ancient service sometimes performed in the Roman Catholic Church, grapples with the death of his wife. In these poems he takes the reader on the journey that his wife endured, and he with her, in her wrenching passage from life to death. I initially read his manuscript sometime ago but still I am filled with its humanity, its depth of vision, and imagination. One of the things that resonates with me most is how willing he was to explore the hardest stuff in order to find his voice. He found it. These poems are some of the most moving poems I have ever read about death. What he has created is astonishing. There is a humanity at the core of these pieces that shakes the reader to the bone. They are moving. They are elegiac. They are celebratory. If sadness and solitude make for big art, these poems are big art. But they are more than that—they are the human heart in a singular and authentic voice. McBride’s poetry is everything that I think of when I think of what poetry should be—playful, intelligent, of the personal and the universal simultaneously. So, while the poems have a confessional air to them, they are completely of us, for us, the world at large.
     Other of the poems in this book focus on family, on history, on his Irish heritage. In particular, there is a piece entitled “San Josef Bay, Cape Scott, Vancouver Island,” which recounts a walk and conversation between a father and his young daughter. The writing in the prose poem is magical, haunting, and utterly sublime because of what Max says and does not say all at once. He has that ability, that talent, to know what not to say, to impose silence into a piece, the unsaid, in order to say more, in order to garner the most powerful emotional effect possible.
     This is Max McBride’s power—his poetry is an emotional poetry. It is not a sentimental poetry, though. It gets at the heart of the heart and tears things up to build them back up. It is a smart poetry. The ethos of his voiceis strong. When you read his work, you feel like you are in the hands of a master craftsperson, in the hands of a poet who has figured out the big and gorgeous balance between ‘here and there’ at the same time. Like the Tenebrae poems, his other pieces, though different in subject matter, come from the same well-spring and express, again, the depth of humanity that is so heartbreaking and exquisite in his work.
Max McBride’s poems are for the world,for every man and woman who wants to know more about the beauty and the suffering that are in a state of constant collision.”

Excerpt from “Quills”

“I see you both far from me and near.
Barely more than children when we met,
First semester freshmen,
A drunken evening in our college town,
Two deluded porcupines,
Hoping our quills were feathers.

So it began, love’s desperate battle,
You of the imperious will,
‘Sheriff’ as I took to calling you,
The girl who tossed
Your old boyfriend’s cloddish wing-tipped shoes
Right out the car window.

I, a beast with no trust or clue
Why one so beautiful
Would bother with one such as me.
Chestnut eyes in Modigliani face,
Bare legs in miniskirt,
Auburn hair flowing down your back,
False eyelashes and nails,
Big dark circles of mascara.”

 

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