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The Book of Kells
by Barbara Crooker
52 poems, 87 pages
Price $12.00
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5326-0636-6
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5326-0638-0
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-5326-0637-3
Publisher: Cascade Books, An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers
To Order:


Barbara Crooker's latest collection displays the remarkable poetry brought forth as she
meditated on pages of The Book of Kells. This richly illuminated Latin text of the four
gospels was created by monks about 800 AD. The calligraphy is considered the pinnacle
of "Insular Illumination" and is widely regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure. The
decorative artwork showcases elements of traditional Christian iconography interlaced
with Celtic knots as well as human and animal figures, all in stunningly vibrant colors.
Upon receiving a writing fellowship at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co. Monaghan,
Ireland, the poet went on retreat where poems spilled forth from her heart producing a
poetic triumph worthy of the unique art form that inspired them.


"Somehow Barbara Crooker has fastened it all to the page here: the sweet green world of
Ireland, with its glorious Book of Kells, its age-old humor, its inimitable music, its poets
with their delicious bendy language, so that you can almost taste those buttery scones and
its peat-laced Irish whiskey."
—Paul Mariani, Professor of Poetry Boston College

"In turns playful and provocative, The Book of Kells, offers a finely attuned look at both
the eponymous text and Ireland. Ancient words and worlds come alive by Crooker's
careful eye: sheep clotting the green fields and blackbirds chuffing at the sky, snakes
curling around illuminated script whose color fireworks across the centuries in
impossibly quiet splendor—indeed, these poems capture so much wonder at the wide,
wild weary moments of being human and looking for God, letter by letter, loss by loss,
lake by lake. The Book of Kells is a treasure."
—Susanna Childress, Assistant Professor, Hope College

"It's hard not to be startled by both the how of her rendering and the what of which she
makes such music, something created by monks 1,400 years ago. This is thrilling stuff:
'six hundred steps to the scriptoria / on rocks piled by the hand of God' and the
'castellated outcrops terrifying / above the brooding sea.' And lizards slithering in the
text, animals as punctuation, peacocks everywhere. 'An "N" made up of two wrestling
men.' She gives us that long ago Ireland, then today's as seen through the feeling eyes of
a poet on retreat. This book is a wonder, a departure from Crocker's celebrated domestic
work, and gloriously so.
—Greg McBride, editor of the Innisfree Poetry Review


Barbara Crooker is a poetry editor for Italian-Americana, and the author of seven
previous full length books and twelve chapbooks of poetry. Her work has appeared in
many anthologies, including the Bedford Introduction to Literature, Imago Dei: Poems
from Christianity and Literature
, and Looking for God in All the Right Places. She has
received a number of awards including the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred
award and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships.


by Barbara Crooker

A brown hare washes her face
in the lane while the hare in the moon
looks on. The hare in the moon
carries an egg, new cycle of life
that comes in the spring. But now,
it's autumn, the sky closing in,
fir trees inking footprints
on the gray silk sky. A luminous sky,
tattered with crows. Two swans,
ruffled lilies, float in the lake's bright bowl.
Some fairy's touched all the trees overnight,
turned them orange, yellow, and red. All of
the green fields are clotted with sheep. What
is the world, but the body of God?

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