Island Alchemy. 

A New book of  Poems 

from Chuck Kruger


Dublin Poet Mary Rose Callan writes: Island Alchemy is Chuck Kruger’s 2nd poetry collection, a worthy successor to Sourcing. The poems are 
richly descriptive in the manner which made Sourcing so memorable….

Love and nature are inextricable linked in many of the poems. The poet wonders what it would be like to be a gull, flying ‘with my own wings/and 
have you, my love, beside me’, while the gulls in ‘Seawall Sitting’ convince him that ‘our dance goes on through all our night/richer for the bird’s now shadowy 
delight.’ The beautiful short lyric, ‘Moonlight Dance’ puts the reader in mind of some of Wordsworth’s love poems. The simplicity of the language here is one 
of the strengths of this poem about love and the moon.

Kruger excels in the long narrative poem and many of them carry the reader along with the dialogue, detail, enormous energy, and wonder…. 
The imagery of sea, birds, fish and island-living animates these poems. Swallows are ‘soulmates’, the Milky Way is an alley ‘where I still go to play’, whales

            ‘swim beside us, under us, help us discover what it’s like

            to be a child again, and how to put our hands into the wound and know.’

In this lovely collection Chuck Kruger continues his forward movement as a poet in a convincing manner.

And Dublin Poet Tony Curtis, writes: Chuck Kruger is now very much an island man, perhaps he always was. Eighteen years ago, with his wife Nell, 
Chuck moved to the remote Cape Clear Island off the coast of West Cork. Since then, in award winning stories and poems, he has been mapping the island 
and its coastline, its tides, its weather, its people, its lore, its fish and its birds. He is, in a sense, the island keeper.

            What drives his poetry is personal experience: the sad, the uplifting, the marvellous.… The island is fortunate to have such an observant writer living on 
its green slopes. He seems to be always tuned-in to the island frequency. His poems broadcast its song, its soul, and all those small things living, dying, or dead. 
He breathes life into the rocks. He gives voice to the birds and the whales. He lets the harbour display its sheltering purpose. He makes the bars sing and the 
houses give warmth. He revels in the mystery of the stars and the perpetual pull of the moon. Life on Cape Clear is a tapestry he weaves eloquently into poetry. 
There is no doubt alchemy happens when he writes of the island….

And yes, story is a big part of Kruger’s writing. In his poetry narrative is to the fore, it is the sails of his ship…. He is a writer who gets up close like 
Robert Frost, though there is more rain here than snow, and all roads – there being so few – are travelled equally.

            I feel that over a lifetime of writing Chuck has discovered, as James Joyce did, that in the ordinary lies the extraordinary…. In all of Chuck’s writing 
we are welcome companions…. There is great warmth at the heart of his poetry.

At seventy, there is something very prayerful too in this poet’s utterance. As Thomas McCarthy has noted, in Chuck’s poetry there is ‘a sense of 
the spiritual in primitive places’…. Island Alchemy … is a book to carry with you. Its simplicity grows on you day by day, night by night.

Review of Island Alchemy by Leo McMahon, The Southern Star, Saturday, March 5, 2011

It was West Cork on the double at City Library recently with the launch of two books of poems, ‘Island Alchemy’ by Chuck Kruger, Cape Clear Island and ‘She Be’ by Tina Pisco and both published by Bradshaw Books, Tight Filí, Cork.

Performing the launch of Island Alchemy, historian, teacher and writer Diarmuid O’Driscoll said that since American-born Chuck moved to Cape Clear Island with his wife Nell 25 years ago, he had made a niche for himself as a writer having published a book of essays on the Gaeltacht isle, as well as a novel, two collections of short stories and a previous collection of poetry plus innumerable broadcasts and photographs.

‘The most striking feature of all Chuck’s writing, and especially this collection of poetry, is his sense of place and more often than not, that place is Cape…and he gets to the essence of what a place is, its features, its uniqueness, its magic’.

‘In these poems, we see the stars, the moon, sunrise and sunset, fog, light, waves, storms, birds, dolphins, whales, cliffs, rocks, ditches, reek-making, cow milking and so on. But Chuck also has the poet’s eye – ‘rosc’ as it was known in ancient Ireland – the eye that picks out what is beautiful and wondrous in nature and human behaviour and goes further and makes a connection to it, for himself and for the reader too’.

‘James Joyce said Dublin could be reconstructed from the detail of the pages of Ulysses.

Now you won’t reconstruct Cape from the poems in this collection but you will see and feel the essence of Cape and of Chuck too,’ Diarmuid concluded.

Returning thanks, Chuck Kruger regaled the audience as he recited the poems ‘Cow’, ‘Moonlight Dance’, ‘Pagan Thoughts and a Shag’, ‘Confirmation’ and ‘Grace the Night’ from Island Alchemy, a collection of 41 new poems and 12 selected from his first collection, Sourcing, in 2007….[Tina Pisco's review section comes next.]

If you’d like an autographed copy of ISLAND ALCHEMY, for yourself or a friend, simply enclose a personal cheque, for  €18.30 (from within the EU), or for $18  (from USA), payable to Chuck Kruger, with the name & address of the recipient attached, and mail to:
Chuck Kruger
Glen West
Cape Clear Island
County Cork, Ireland

(Above price includes handling and shipping.)  

Alternatively, if you wish to pay by credit card, you may buy online through an island website:

And if you'd like to read about Chuck's other books, then click on  The Man Who Talks To Himself , Cape Clear Island MagicBetween A Rock or Sourcing.

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