In An Unkindness of Ravens, Meg Kearney's poems weave voices of estrangement and redemption: mothers, daughters, lovers of gin, and dead things. In an attempt to create an identity—to imagine a past when all biological and genealogical ties have been severed—Kearney's poems create their own mythology in order to tell an emotional truth. A number of poems find the protagonist speaking to the character, Raven, who serves an imaginary lover, friend, and foe: the vehicle through which the reader identifies with the speaker's joy and angst.
Sometimes the raven talks in its sleep.
Once, it said
Once, it said
Once it caught me hovering
over its trembling beak, my ear so close
I feared I might fall.
It shook my hair from its eyes; we
were perched in a tree and below
the city shivered.
I could smell the dead
the raven had eaten for breakfast. Its back
was purple, red, then white; its back
was a room. A chapel dimly lit
where a woman was crying. I thought
I knew her; her eyes were hazel. I almost
called her name, but she hurried away,
slipping a photograph of me
into her pocket.
“Meg Kearney's An Unkindness of Ravens is a book of reticence and revelation, secrecy and surprise. Few poems are narrative, but something like a story emerges from these lyrics alive with hurt and splendor. Although the poems radiate personal feeling, we have no sense of confessional poetry as deliberate self-revelation; Kearney's confessional is Catholic. Some poems, especially the raven series, derive from the recesses of dream; others observe the world from the outside. Wherever place her poems come from, their beauty lies in their language.” —Donald Hall, from the Foreword