Hunger to Share is Peg Bresnahan’s third collection of poems. She moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina from Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula, exchanging the horizontal waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan for the land of waterfalls. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Peg and her husband, sculptor Dan Bresnahan, live next to DuPont State Recreational Forest in Cedar Mountain, sharing the area with deer, snakes, bears, bobcats, fox, opossums, and at least one time a cougar; creatures who’ve called it home far longer than they have. They have two rescue cats and are hoping to adopt a Doberman to replace their dog Bailey, who died last May—an almost impossible challenge. They enjoy traveling, visiting their families in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and one closer to home in North Carolina. This year they plan to explore more of the States, though the appetite to experience other cultures and religions, to travel through countries with names out of history books and fairy tales is difficult to resist.
Praise for Hunger to Share and In a Country None of Us Called Home
Peg Bresnahan’s poems are deft, accessible, and musical. They are also strange. They are strange the way this world is strange when we remember to look at it, in the way that characterizes the sublime rather than the beautiful, the final union with what was at first uncanny or disturbing. And they are most strange when they are most recognizable. Ranging from the back porch to the Mekong, the poems of Hunger to Share are full of moments in which the quotidian slides seamlessly into the startling. Through a hearing aid trapped in a hiking boot, we hear moles tunneling, and also the arguments and accommodations of long love. A rat’s tail becomes a scythe to winnow the whole world. To the endless question of are you happy? these poems offer the only answer there is: “i will hold you / you hold me.”
—Catherine Carter, author of The Swamp Monster at Home
Peg Bresnahan has an extraordinarily acute eye and writes with an exacto knife in language that is stringently clear and soars with enviable images that transcend the ordinary. These arresting, compelling, and moving poems take us on journeys in Asian locales, in Appalachian landscapes, and in the arena of relationships. Her disciplined words reflect the experience of terror and deep beauty.
—Tina Barr, author of Green Target, winner of the Barrow Street Press Book Prize
Hunger to Share might be called narrative poetry, but Bresnahan thinks and observes lyrically. She is full of a hungry love—for music, art, nature, and for disparate places and cultures. The last section, “Enormous Things,” even transports the reader onto a pig barge on the Mekong. A journey with Peg Bresnahan is one to make us all give thanks to the gods.
—Anne Harding Woodworth, author of The Eyes Have It
One of the most memorable poems in Peg Bresnahan’s new, well-crafted, and astonishingly varied collection is titled “Skin,” in which the poet slyly conjures what it must be like to have “a cerebrum filled with hindsight / bursting to do it right—this time with style.” This might serve as the perfect profile of Bresnahan herself as she takes the reader, both literally and emotionally, on an unforgettable journey to destinations as placid as a Northern Wisconsin lake, to the complex panorama of present-day Southeast Asia, and to the interior realms of grief, courage, and love. You’ll find it a breathtaking trip.
—Marilyn L. Taylor, former Wisconsin Poet Laureate and author of Going Wrong
What a true gift we have in Peg Bresnahan’s dazzling new collection, In a Country None of Us Called Home. The narrative voice in these poems has a focus that is honest, steady, and absolutely clear. There is also a sharpness of observation, as when she comments on the everyday birds of Sri Lanka that hover daily in smoke, insignificant and scientifically unnamed. But they too carry their own signature, “since they always wake at dawn,/ fly to burning fields /and sleep at night/ wrapped in wings/ the color of tropical seas.” Peg’s gift is to offer the ordinary a moment of uniqueness that each life deserves. This collection indeed is a gallery of the extraordinary and small planted in time—a vision that perhaps only the photographer or poet can arrest perfectly. Inspiration radiates from every life and distant land visited in this eloquent book of poems.
—Katherine Soniat, author of The Swing Girl
“When the unthinkable/begins, haven’t people always filled/their arms, carts, carriages, cars/with what they couldn’t leave?” This evocative and heart-rending question is followed by the even more poignant one— “Who’s to say what I’ll grab first/when the sirens wail?” Peg Bresnahan’s In a Country None of Us Called Home, is, itself, the answer to that question. Bresnahan shares with her lucky readers intimate explorations of the things she cannot leave behind. This is one of the most beautifully crafted and deeply moving collections I have read in a long time. If and when “the sirens wail,” this will be one of the books I grab first.
—Cathy Smith Bowers, former North Carolina Poet Laureate, and author of The Collected Poems of Cathy Smith Bowers