Flaking the Rope

f.t.r.

Gene Barry’s gift to his readers is a poet’s brilliant, courageous, and powerful rendering of family dysfunction, child abuse and sexual molestation. In this exquisite collection of poems, Barry writes with compassion and heart-wrenching expression of ‘aged uncleanable stains,’ where ‘there were zeppelins always knocking around his skyline,’ ‘belching the dark with upsetness.’

In Flaking the Rope, Barry is not afraid to challenge us, layering his poems with wisdom and metaphor as he ventures and navigates his way into the depths of pain and trauma, revealing unconscionable acts and life-altering experiences, and, in the process, illuminating us with intelligent writing and striking word combinations. Gene Barry is a masterful poet, one who truly wants change for this world, an enlightened activist who pens gorgeous poems.

Flaking the Rope extends love and forgiveness at its centre, expresses hope of universal healing, where ‘a hug is a thesaurus that blankets every wound.’

Jeannie E. Roberts USA, author of The Wingspan of Things, Romp and Ceremony, Beyond Bulrush, Nature of it All and other books.

 

 

Gene Barry’s new poetry collection, Flaking the Rope, is a book of healing.

One day I will cry forever

[…]

I will hand back shame,

stuff hanks of guilt deep into his larynx.

Such uncompromising words as these of deep psychological torment (from Stuffing Hanks) reflect the kind of healing needed and which the poet seeks to impart.

Unflinching in its honest recognition of the hurt so often inflicted upon children, whether intentionally or unknowingly, by parents themselves harmed by society’s inadequacies, the poems in this collection nevertheless exude a genuine empathy for all damaged youngsters, and for the damaged adults they frequently become.

Yet they speak also to the awkward love that so often underpins even difficult familial relationships, heartbreaking and devastating though these may sometimes be. And thus the poems resonate with each of us, because they speak for us all. In one form or another, we have been there.

How much aching, how much yearning, how much love there is in words such as these:

Do not leave me now Mother,

but bed yourself into my heart,

for I have a room there for you

to furnish with love,

memories for you to write.

(Dousing our Genoa)

Or these, of another mother’s funeral:

So many heart deaths she’s had

And hidden in complex notions,

In outdated prayers and diatribes…

[…]

How kind of death

To call her back to safety.

(On the Homestead)

If, as C.S. Lewis claimed, we read to know we are not alone, then Flaking the Rope is another page in that essential volume. It deserves to be read and re-read.

Harry Owen, Grahamstown South Africa

 

Gene Barry is a true captain of language in his new book Flaking the Rope.

Barry welcomes us on-board his international odyssey of place and persona, where even in the direst circumstance, hope pulls speaker, subject, and reader through to another path – as “woken tractors that are feeding fields,” where the body is the instrument and recipient for both disease and song.

Barry shares that sacred music in lyrical prescient language, dousing and drifting us “through seas of detached understanding.”

Professor Anne Elezabeth Pluto Boston, author of Lubbock Electric

 

Gene Barry’s new collection, bearing the inciting title “Flaking the Rope”, is a feast for the heart, both in terms of content and form. It opens up with amazing images such as this:

“She was a holed ark

Lying in that grave not yet dug for her.” (Call me Granny)

One day ‘I will cry forever (Stuffing Hanks)

“there is a frozen silence

both sides of our window”. (Mother)

 

There is tender humour or even irony:

“A readable Ulysses”.  (Call me Granny)

“After all,

families are only for photographs”. (Call me Granny)

“he won gold at the hide and seek Olympics” (Continuance)

there is sensibility, deep introspection, subtlety and a great generosity (not to call it professionalism) in the understanding of the human soul. He talks with the same precision about the others – may them be part of the family or just strangers he observes – and about the self.

 

Gene Barry is the creator of strong metaphors; amazing images such as these:

” When the

Deamons

Unplugged

Life’s keystone” (Granard)

 

” their memories get speeding fines” (Fish)

 

“he can hold an un-conducted philharmonic

in the unspoken of his heartstrings” (Poem)

 

“the music of

useless half moons” (Fishing)

 

The poems are written in different styles – in terms of line length and rhythm. Besides the lengthy poems, there are short lines like in “The Splinter” – just two or three words per line, creating the feeling of sharp intrusion depicted in the poem, “Granard” – even more tense, in its devastating sadness, or the beautiful, musical “Play me another one please” or the story of rocks and achievements in “Building Harmonising Dreaming”.

 

Gene Barry creates little stories containing a lifetime span in each of them. His poems draw the waves of humanity’s heart – in its perfect imperfection, which Gene so generously accepts.

 

The psychological concepts such as: loneliness, nihilism, pain, sorrow, healing, torment, punishment – which usually sound so technical and so distant – are skilfully brought over in the land of poetry. This is Gene’s greatest talent – to integrate these terms into such strong and original images, that touch the reader. Gene Barry has both a deep understanding of life and a poetic sensibility, with a feeling for language – which is exactly what it needs to be a great writer.

 

Denisa Duran, Romania

 

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Working Days

working

Writing human condition: Gene Barry as a chronicler of our times.

 When grief unbuckled itself

it fell like January dew

seeping right into her very marrow,

the big Clare smile was gone.

 

Gene can be metaphysical, if he chooses to be!

The lines above from January Dew from the present collection of his recent poems confirm this impression—and validate.

Gene Barry of the famous Blackwater Poetry Festival is an institution. Art therapist, critic, poet, curator, activist, public figure, this Irish artist has proved that once it comes to articulating the angst of the human condition the Irish are the best.

And they have an impressive heritage! Joyce is the summit very few can dream of ever surpassing. Swift, Shaw, Yeats, Wilde, Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Sean O’ Casey and many others. It is a collective that can be best matched by the Russians or the French of the previous two centuries. Gene is a true inheritor of this world-class legacy of wit and sharp observation and satiric commentary on foibles and fads of a species called Homo-sapiens that has kept the artists engaged from the very beginning of the time—and now entertained through its stupidity and greed and predatory nature out to destroy nature itself!

For Gene Barry, the world is a canvas, life is the field of study and humans, despite frailties, true subject. He turns his gaze at the la affaire human—this great drama—and mercilessly dissects with the commitment of a scientist and psychiatrist. He dissent, subverts power-structures and dominant power discourse. He makes rigid language flexible, yokes dissimilar images and makes the fusion speak, like the Metaphysical poets of the yore!

English becomes a supple probe in his deft hands. He makes it do amazing things—almost re-vitalizing clichés and making the readers see the everyday in a new light.

For me, as a reader, Gene Barry reminds me of another great: Paul Henry, especially his Connemara series. Like Paul, Gene takes in the essentials and compresses them in a vibrant frame—catching the scene forever.

These poems do that job—moving us and like a classic Paul Henry painting, giving us a sense of time and place.

Dr. Sunil Sharma.

 

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UNFINISHED BUSINESS BY GENE BARRY 

unfinished business

Poetry Salzburg Review

Gene Barry’s Unfinished Business is highly narrative, but as much as it seems impelled to tell its stories, it does so with shocking economy and observational precision. Family is a recurring theme, and specifically fathers and sons. In ‘Repairing Loneliness’, a dad whose “eyes told all” explains the importance of the masculine act of playing handyman to family members, even in seemingly trivial repairs, because otherwise he’ll “suffer” (30).

This combination of humour and wistful seriousness recurs, as poem after poem continues to tell the hard truth with an emphatic wink. In another father /son poem, “Drawbacks”, the speaker draws back time to when his father was still alive, affectionately re/rearing him to adulthood, and then musing, “I will watch you half doze after gardening, /ask if you enjoyed your pint, / light one of the fags that killed you”. (48)

One of the strengths of this collection lies in its attention to detail. Sometimes, it is just a moment, as in “Princess Street, Cork” when “a good looking pacifist lost his life / to a pair of tailor’s scissors.” (18). The detail that he was good-looking seems at once extraneous and crucial to the tone of the tale. Other poems gather momentum by composing interesting details together, One after another, into lists.

Consider “Idle Hands”, with its lamentation of, “no more / gutter bolts, / building-site mantras, / black screws, / spacers, / black nails and blisters, / 4 x 1 gauges, / t’s and g’s, / reducers, / frustrating German fixtures …” (21) The “building-site mantras” and “frustrating German fixtures” could only come from someone who knows, as Philip Levine puts it, “what work is.”

Another poem from father to son calls the man, “A headstrong bullock. / A stadium of Rafterys. / A set of admirable shoulders.” He recalls, “The boy / in a mustard fleece / top and brown / corduroy pants, / stanched in a / pair of blue / heroic wellies / that I love.” (22)

The collection is not all filial love and fondest memory, however “Michael” is a poem of shocking economy about a boy disabled by polio and abused by monastic care takers who

[…] cut leather, punched it,
put coins in between the strips
he managed to sew together
for the brothers who flogged him.

He tied four longer strips
around his neck before
he pushed the stool away. (10)

Incidental violence, in lore and in everyday life, crops up like this, as in “Evergreen Road” when a mother, “thinks she hears, / ‘the speeding van / blew him 30 metres.”’ (29)

Throughout Unfinished Business Gene Barry brings a raconteur’s impulse, with wide-ranging humanistic veracity, tempered by careful attention to line and detail.

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Writing human condition: Gene Barry as a chronicler of our times.

 Sunil Sharma.

When grief unbuckled itself
it fell like January dew
seeping right into her very marrow,
the big Clare smile was gone.

Gene can be metaphysical, if he chooses to be!

The lines above from January Dew from the present collection of his recent poems confirm this impression—and validate.

Gene Barry of the famous Blackwater Poetry Festival is an institution. Art therapist, critic, poet, curator, activist, public figure, this Irish artist has proved that once it comes to articulating the angst of the human condition the Irish are the best.

And they have an impressive heritage! Joyce is the summit very few can dream of ever surpassing. Swift, Shaw, Yeats, Wilde, Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Sean O’ Casey and many others. It is a collective that can be best matched by the Russians or the French of the previous two centuries. Gene is a true inheritor of this world-class legacy of wit and sharp observation and satiric commentary on foibles and fads of a species called Homo-sapiens that has kept the artists engaged from the very beginning of the time—and now entertained through its stupidity and greed and predatory nature out to destroy nature itself!

For Gene Barry, the world is a canvas, life is the field of study and humans, despite frailties, true subject. He turns his gaze at the la affaire human—this great drama—and mercilessly dissects with the commitment of a scientist and psychiatrist. He dissent, subverts power-structures and dominant power discourse. He makes rigid language flexible, yokes dissimilar images and makes the fusion speak, like the Metaphysical poets of the yore!

English becomes a supple probe in his deft hands. He makes it do amazing things—almost re-vitalizing clichés and making the readers see the everyday in a new light.

For me, as a reader, Gene Barry reminds me of another great: Paul Henry, especially his Connemara series. Like Paul, Gene takes in the essentials and compresses them in a vibrant frame—catching the scene forever.

These poems do that job—moving us and like a classic Paul Henry painting, giving us a sense of time and place.

Dr. Sunil Sharma is Principal at Bharat College – affiliated to University of Mumbai, Mumbai – at Badlapur, Mumbai Metropolitan Region, India. He is a bilingual critic, poet, literary interviewer, editor, translator, essayist and fiction writer. Besides that, he is a freelance journalist in English.

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KNOT Magazine

Gene Barry in his new collection of poetry, Unfinished Business from Doghouse Press, points at last with children’s fingers to childhood pain and abuse. Barry’s searing and honest account of wounds, and denial, pulls the reader in. The reader sees with Barry’s eyes, even sometimes flinches with Barry’s skin. The reader roots for Barry and hopes those included in his works,  receive the ablution and understanding they deserve.

Barry suggests that healing from a difficult past is a lifetime journey and will always be Unfinished Business. The poems are riveting and complex and demand careful consideration. For readers who have suffered from similar abuses the poems, though disturbing, are comforting and cathartic.

Barry often uses an adult lens to examine his past. In his poem “Letter to Self” he looks at his denial, his need to forgive himself for his mountains of inabilities, and his desire for repair:

Denial perched on my heart,
I didn’t know this, couldn’t have.
It arrived days when inside
my little frame and head
my dictionary had only
white pages and when pain
had nudged me on to
a tangent of self sabotage.
Those lumps of anguish encased
in childhood blindness grew into
mountains of inabilities and rejection,
steering my mother adult to dole out
the oozing jealousies and torments
to a clean new generation.

          (1-14)

Barry’s honest and illuminating poem about abuse “ Stuffing Hanks” reveals Barry’s grit and stunning lack of self pity.

One day I will cry forever.
Not like a terrace loser,
or a baby-faced softy,
you know, a terminal cry.
I will stoke my engine with
nights-without-sleep and invasions,
childhood floggings and hidden wounds,
attacks and black-suited fiends.
I won’t forget to douse the unexpected
with rivers of anal blood and
floods of small-boy tears.
I will hold up all of those walls
I’ve fallen off and hidden behind
with screaming wrongs
and decorate my sky
with pointing children’s fingers.
A cortege of forbidden questions
will at last assemble
and trod with notice
to a brand new place of old
where every squeezed-open
pair of perfect ears
will finally embrace my slowest form of death.

          (1-24)

One of the most heart wrenching poems in Unfinished Business deals with our discomfort with disability.

From “Michael”

After polio had visited,
the boy it chose
was never the same.
It paralysed his mother.
Young men lit their laughter,
Pubescent girls wondered
and dogs slowed near him;
the years after his father
could take no more.

He had paddled upstream
to a school and a room
for special people……

(1-12)

Unfinished Business is a collection of poems as powerful as Barry’s fellow countryman Frank McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes. Barry has the courage to find words to name and describe wounds. Barry’s poems harsh and honest, thoughtful and tender reveal a portrait of a man who has overcome difficult odds and carved his own switchback path to healing.

 Kristen D Scott Editor-In-Chief, KNOT Magazine

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Lunar Poetry

published in LP1, August 2014

Gene Barry’s Unfinished Business is the first collection from the founder of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival, who also works as a psychotherapist. Perhaps informed by this professional experience, his collection is particularly marked by a concern with outsiders, those who have undergone traumatic experiences, and those who live under precarious conditions.

At his best, he is able to suggest the psychological complexities of a situation in a restrained yet compelling fashion, as for instance in the poem ‘Redundant’, which deals with the consequences of a woman’s mastectomy for her and her partner:

These nights his hand rests
behind him pining for its spooning perch.
She no longer jadedly whispers
nite, love you too,
concentrates on the tears
filling the pillow’s pool,
makes another note to change it
while he’s away at work
where he will cry a half dozen
times in the deaf toilet.

The couple’s inability to communicate, precisely because of their love for each other, is captured in a wonderfully understated way. The woman’s psychological disorientation, produced by this physical change, is also brought home to the reader with great economy:

She is awkwardly lighter there now,
the new weight resting on her shoulders
toppling her into an unfamiliar world.

Where the poems are similarly spare and direct (as, for instance, in ‘Michael’, ‘Mea Maxima Culpa, I Suppose’ or ‘Economic Blues’) Barry is able to bring us closer to damaged lives without voyeurism or easy sentimentality. However, where the poet becomes too allusive and abandons such clarity of expression, some of the poems become perplexing.

For instance, despite a number of re-readings and quite a bit of googling, I’m still none the wiser about what the poem ‘Ephemeral Shanks’s Mare’ could be about, and there are moments in otherwise good poems where the language becomes too convoluted and abstract for the reader to engage with. For example, in ‘At the Palace’ the poem asks of its subject:

Were you that bludgeoned child
camouflaged by a deafness
lurking in an adult’s cognizance?
A hug-less daughter listing in
a sea of non-commingled waves,
your family’s fulcrum bent
as his counterfeit title.

Moments such as these feel over-cooked, relying on opaque imagery rather than clear-sighted observation. Nevertheless, these are only minor distractions from the collection’s other strengths.

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POETRY CORNWALL

Gene Barry is a very engaged poet. What he observes in today’s world is his muse. The poem ‘Michael’ is a prime example: After polio had visited, / the boy it chose / was never the same.
Detailed lines follow to a tragic conclusion.

Poets who write on life have reality as their canvass and this is very true of the poems in this publication.

Unfinished Business is a great first collection and earns a space on the poetry favourites shelf.

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BOOKS IRELAND

Barry works as an art therapist and psychotherapist in north County Cork. However as a poet he founded Blackwater Poetry and the Blackwater International Poetry Festival, of which he is also chairman. He also teaches poetry in local schools and edits collections. Although this is his first collection, his poems have been widely published and even translated into Arabic and Italian.

His professional life brings him into contact with asylum seekers, active retirement groups and hospital patients and their experiences are reflected in many of his poems.

As well as this, his poetry also reflects his own experiences and thoughts on the big issues on life and love.

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ELSEWHERE – A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY POETRY

‘Growing Down’, the opening poem in this first collection, has an epigraph from Oscar Wilde – ‘Be yourself. Every one else is taken’. The adults in the speaker’s life
.. gave me lies and pain,
disbelief and discouragement;
selflessness stood in a queue.
It hurt to lose oneself.
When I start again, it
will be a million miles
nearer my childhood self.

Those last three lines read like a manifesto for Barry, who founded the Fermoy International Poetry Festival. Unfinished Business documents life from family outwards to friends, neighbourhood and wider world. Poems about Barry’s children mix loving memories with analysis of how that love works. ‘Time Flown’ counts down to one child’s start at secondary school. Three consecutive verses begin:

Five years filling the Piranha Pine bookshelf
I made for you, of three times a week swimming…
Three days of secondary school,
delivering you and my new passengers in your
sensibly too-big uniforms and big-girl bags…
A split second of peer pressure and your larynx
is silenced, your lips un-puckered and your heart
astray with the introduction of an uncool flutter.

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The poems of Gene Barry are generous and compassionate. Barry writes rebel poetry that rebels against the hardening of our hearts and minds and urges us to stay open-minded and understanding. Anybody who writes lines like ‘lost my breath again / as they doled out / the currency of resentment, / bitterness’ deserves your and my attention. I am thrilled and happy that his first collection has finally appeared in print.

TSEAD BRUINJA – HOLLAND

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Gene Barry’s poems informed and grounded in the vernacular of the soul, reveal his deep understanding of human nature. His poetry describes la condition humaine with an unequivocal honesty and a purity of language which, I have to admit, transported me.

MICHELE VASSAL – FRANCE

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Gene Barry knows how difficult it is to deal with the burdens that are visited upon each generation by its progenitors. His poetry epitomizes the struggle all of us must face to put aside the hurt and forgive, and possibly even love.

His work deals honestly with the day to day realities and struggles of daily life in a way that shrugs off nothing, that refuses to obfuscate or romanticize.

His poetic voice is an original one that speaks memorably to all of us.

BRADLEY R. STRAHAN – USA

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A Kennedy moment’ just shifts along and changes emotional gears effortlessly until you achieve that sonic roar’.

‘Turkish Baths’ is an exercise in heroic exorcism. It is a blast of human energy’.

‘Tactile Memories’ is a superb piece, wild and exacting, and remote and challenging’.

‘Stones in their Shoes’ is a great poem. I love the drive and push and forgiveness of it. We may spend a life making peace with our fathers’.

Professor Robert Welch Ireland

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BOOK REVIEWS ON AMAZON 

To say that Gene Barry is a good poet is to underestimate the power of his work. Indeed, Gene’s acute observations of life and of mankind lend his poetry a visceral quality that ‘shocks’ the reader into a sense of familiarity and the personal. To read the poetry is to read the story of life, it is a universal language that has the power of rendering the reader numb and left wanting more. ‘Unfinished Business’ is a valuable companion to any sentient being.

Anser Shah England

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Gene Barry is a practicing psychotherapist and this professional dedication permeates his poetry, lending it a warm and empathetic quality even while his poetry considers some of life’s harsh realities: despair, loneliness, poverty, anger, mental illness. His sensitive use of small, apparently insignificant details is often telling: “My dad’s eyes told all. / Light blue, almost ice blue / they spoke differently to his voice.” (‘Repairing Loneliness’)

And the heart-rending opening to ‘Michael’ is, in fact, a deeply moving evocation of the desperation visited upon a disabled child whose whole family is destroyed by a combination of sickness, religious bigotry and social disregard: “After polio had visited, / the boy it chose / was never the same. / It paralysed his mother.”

Unfinished Business is packed with such poetry of love and humanity. In fact, of love FOR humanity. It is gentle in style and honest in tone while dealing with some of life’s harshest difficulties. It celebrates the power we all have within us to survive and to live.

I recommend it.

Harry Owen – South Africa

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A Man; An Irish man; A Psychotherapist; A Listener, An inspiration to many in numerous countries around the world. Gene Barry writes from the Heart but in a way that strikes Chords with the reader, even given there are cultural differences, there is something in his writings that picks at the very essence of our psyche.

Gene writes about a myriad of events including one about a Child of the Chernobyl disaster during his stint doing some Charity work in the region.

In Bonelocked, Gene seems almost to take on the mantle of the Child in what to me is an almost rhetorical poem moving through the Child’s young life (only 12) from birth to the Nuclear devastation and combining the fight and struggle for life in this region as an Herculean, Olympic task just to reach the age of 12.

Another work is ‘Growing Down’ an amazingly introspective piece where Gene quotes a line from Oscar Wilde. He (Gene) looks at childhood and then the transition into adulthood and sees some of what formed and shaped that life as a betrayal and so instead of Growing Up the apt title of ‘Growing Down’ takes one back to Childhood which for some may have been the best years. Somewhere (not necessarily to retreat but), to use as a renewed, reinforced foundation. A wise man once told me ‘The Past should only ever be used as a stepping stone to the future’ and for me Growing Down captures this.

‘Boom Time’ – littered with onomatopoeia, in this work the writer takes us to and from an ordinary day (here in Ireland), that could be anywhere and then thrusts us unceremoniously into the War in GAZA and uses simile to incredible effect. Can’t quote from this as it would only spoil your reading.

Lastly in this short review of some of the works of Master Wordsmith Gene Barry of Doghouse Poets is, ‘Michael; – is a Sad, Dark and Poignant work on a Disabled Person and how this impairment impacted not only his life. Short piece, packed with tension and drama. If you have not read any of the work of this – in my opinion, one of Ireland’s finest writers, please purchase this masterpiece. You will not be disappointed. You will be Challenged, You will See things for a different perspective, you will find you listen in different ways and you will notice much more of what is happening in and around you as well as further afield. This would make for a fantastic Christmas, birthday or other present.

Aindre Reece-Sheerin – Guernsey

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Gene Barry is an accomplished poet; there are no wasted or superfluous words. Each poem is crafted with the care of the artisan. I would recommend his poetry as art that can be visited repeatedly and still the reader will find refreshment.

Patrick J Dorrian – NI

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Gene Barry is a wonderful poet! This book contains some of his finest work. He writes truly and meaningfully of the human condition. For a poet, this is a poet to learn from; for the general reader of poetry, this is a poet to love.

Kay Kinghammer – USA

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“Nobody whistles these days.” This is the beauty of Gene’s poetry. He takes a common place event, a simple beauty, and draws us in to feel the emotional impact of four little words. “Nobody whistles these days.” He grasps the emotional essence, the feel, and then artfully shares it with the reader. And I was stirred. He makes you think, to ponder and question. I’m not good at whistling. Whether you’re in the pub, the secondary school, the war zone, grandma’s kitchen, you experience through Gene’s eyes and he allows you to feel his heart.

He is a deep man of exceptional beauty and tenderness. He is strong and powerful and fragile at the same time, a poignant and wonderful combination. There are so many gems, “Michael”, “In Their Kitchen”, “Narcoleptic Fodder”, and my absolute favorite, “Nell and Tommy”. Absolute brilliant simplicity. It is evident why Gene is published internationally. It is obvious why he is continually asked to teach poetry to others. What is his gift to his reader is that he wants to touch us as well. I highly recommend “Unfinished Business” to you!

Thank Gene, I will practice my whistle.

Heather M Browne – USA 

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Reading Gene Barry’s work, it becomes apparent that not only are you hearing the voice of a skilled observer and wordsmith, you are hearing truth from a compassionate heart. While his work shows refined skill with words and a fine-tuned awareness of rhythm and balance, there is no posturing, no ‘cleverness’ to detract from its truth, its ability to probe to the heart of the matter with courage and tenderness.

There is an exquisite eloquence at work here, working on two levels – firstly the commonly understood definition of eloquence, that is, the ability to skillfully articulate thoughts, feelings, ideas, which is here refined to the level of a potent and subtle music. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, there is everywhere apparent in this collection an eloquence of the spirit: a passionate, raw, and genuine response to the world, to people, with a brave and vulnerable heart.

Mishka Hoosen – South Africa

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In Gene Barry’s collection of poetry, Unfinished Business from Doghouse Press, he pulls the reader in with his unique ability to speak about human beings and struggle. The poem’s search into the psychoanalytic in regards to self-limitation from wounds, past regrets, and physical debilitation. At the heart of this search, is a need for ablution, understanding, and ultimately- survival.

Unfinished Business is a telling title, as the works are not easily read; meaning that they do not make allowance for escape. Rather, they demand careful consideration and examination. Therefore, it is not a page turner, but a bible.

Kristen D. Scott – Turkey     

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“Unfinished Business.” demonstrates that Gene Barry, founder of and moving force behind The Blackwater International Poetry Festival, The Blackwater Poetry Group, and tireless advocate for Poetry and Poets worldwide; is an accomplished poet in his own right.

For me he is at his best when writing in his vernacular, of his place, and of the struggles of the Everyman he knows. When he writes about Cork City, there you are walking down Patrick Street. When he writes about his family, you come to know them: “pull weeds, level gravel, place flowers,” and touch headstones.

“Unfinished Business.” is an impressive collection, one which will rest only lightly on your shelf, with frequent perusal!

Mark W O’Brien – USA

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To read a Gene Barry poem is to encounter moments of life described in a supremely engaging art form. To read the book ‘Unfinished Business’ is to go on a journey through life itself. Each word is etched into the psyche, chosen carefully to bring the very essence of an emotion.

There is so much the novice can learn from this man’s ability to hit the reader hard, the set-up of his work is superbly crafted and the message often swirls between lines and smacks the reader with a rabbit punch.
To read the book once leaves yourself contemplating his genius, to read it again is like reading it for the first time, with so many nuances within the pages, a third will beacon I promise…

David Ratcliffe – England

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Gene Barry’s poetry cuts deep into the bone. He takes no prisoners and does not suffer fools lightly. Growing Down, the first poem in his book “Unfinished Business” is beautifully crafted. “It hurt to lose oneself” a beautiful line…”when I start again, it will be a million miles nearer my childhood self” Brutally honest. Terribly beautiful.

Barry sees beyond the façade; his poems can see into your soul. Time Flown is gorgeous – his love is immense and the poem is carved to perfection to the very end where the poet allows himself “thirteen minutes of damned tears deliver themselves” – he comes across as a fabulous loving humane human being. I love this book !!

Maria Ni Mhurchu – Ireland

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We hear so often that poetry is dead, yet there are hundreds of new volumes published every month. The trick is finding the poet that rises above the crowd. Gene Barry is just such a poet. The poetry in this collection pays attention to craft. It speaks thoughtfully and without pretense. It is humane and human and enlightening.

Gene is an Irish poet and he fits well in that tradition. But he is also a poet for the world as he explores in these poems the commonalities of the human condition. Even if you’re not a poetry lover you will find much value in this collection. If you are a poetry lover you will find even more value. If you are a poet (as I am) you will be very jealous.

James Bourey – USA

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Unfinished Business by the talented and caring poet Gene Barry is really about ” unfinished business.” Our past informs our present and helps our journey towards the future. Barry knows how to conjure words to keep the reader transfixed, while experiencing a mixture of emotions.

This poet understands life …he knows both joy and pain are part of the human existence and he writes eloquently about both. This is a book that invites the reader to return again and again. A beautiful poetic work from a beautiful soul. I look forward to more Unfinished Business.

Sheighle Birdthistle – France

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Gene Barry is one of those poets that will leave you absorbing his words long after you have finished reading. Each line holding lines within lines, stories unfolding within stories and words that will get right inside of you and open you up to places you never knew existed. His compassion, warmth and strongly felt emotions run throughout reaching out to the reader in unique ways, stirring your own emotions to surface, each taking you on a journey filled with life in all its shapes and forms. A magnificent poet, this book is a must for all lovers of poetry.

Tina Clowes-Kay – England

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In some way we can only hope that Gene Berry’s business remains unfinished. So we can again and again savour the humanity that falls from his words. For that humanity is the very essence of this Unfinished Business. Each poem will give the reader an insight into his great love, compassion and humour.

Elements that have made Gene Berry such a special and accomplished poet! You will find a flavour of the man in this work and like me be richer for it!

Alan Halford – Ireland

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Writing a review for such a kind-hearted, genius, great poet known as Gene Barry; is nothing less than an honor and privilege. He’s a wonderful teacher, brother, & mentor. I have known Gene for the past 4 years and am consistently reading his poetry for all these years.

Needless to say, his poetry always is fresh and gripping. An expertise; amateur poets, including me need to learn. Unfinished Business includes outstanding poetry Gene has penned. I recommend this book to all those seriously interested in knowing, what poetry is.

Aniruddha Sastikar – India

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Unfinished Business is a collection of writings, which will make you feel something. What that is, is down to you and the ‘me time’ spent exploring this wonderful publication. As a poet, Gene has an innate ability to observe and understand ordinary aspects of life’s daily effort and struggle; to take that, and relay it emphatically. From life’s lessons, to its fun and failures, Gene has managed to pack this publication full of true examples ..a force of fortitude, hope and promise. A highly recommended purchase!

Niall Cahir – Ireland

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Unfinished Business is one of the most in depth analytical poetry books on the complex relationship between family members, the cause and effect of incidents, the dimensions of decisions, in the most poetic beautiful language. Gene Barry crafts his poetry in colors and shapes leading the reader to an understanding of love and its complexity.

Barry draws his conclusions from his own experiences yet they are relatable and universal. This is a very worthy addition to anyone’s poetry book collection.

Silva Zanoyan-Merjanian – USA

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The Poet with a ‘Bucket Full ‘ of poetic genius, Gene Barry’s poetry will take you on a personal journey whether you intend to take it or not. He writes with compassion and honesty, with in-depth in sight into the struggles we as humans face along our journey on this earth.

Drawing the reader in to each piece beautifully and leaving you swimming in a flurry of emotional splendor and awe, you’ll want to re-visit each piece over and over finding some thing new each and every time.

Polly Richardson – Ireland

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This is just a gem of a book. I buy a lot of poetry but this is one that stands out. It is written with real skill (actual use of prosody) but also it is accessible to all. The poems are intimate, and by that I mean they give a real insight into the life of the poet but also give a universal insight into all our lives.

Simon Philbrook – England

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Gene Barry has a way with words that immediately cuts past the surface and finds their way to the gooey insides of what makes us tick. Gene’s works are both dark and light, funny and serious, lyrical and editorial… let’s just say that if Unfinished Business doesn’t have at least poem in it that will grab you, I’ll print this review out myself and eat the page… THAT is how much I know you’ll dig Gene Barry’s collection.

Johnny Olson – USA

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Gene Barry’s poetry is about life, he writes with originality and freshness, vitality and a newness of experience, that make his poems a lasting success. In the pages of “Unfinished Business” you will find poems that read like music to your intelligence. Poems written in a human language of quiet unpretentious dignity that will make you, like me, want to applause the author and demand an encore! More! More! More…….

Ronnie McGinn – Ireland

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Gene Barry’s book “Unfinished Business” deals with all the elements of life and family. It not only hits where you live, but in a way that gives new insight into that dimension, whether from a past incident or in a present relationship. His honest imagery lingers long after you close the pages of his book. I will read this for years to come…a treasure of a book.

Sharon Frye – USA

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Gene Barry’s poetry moves you in a way that you don’t expect it to. It pulls you in, grabs you and then makes you feel emotional while it transports you to a deeper place. “Unfinished Business” is a journey into past, present and future. Only a soul that knows about love, loss, intimacy and spiritual challenges could write this poetry book. I highly recommend it.

Gina Nemo – USA

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Barry has a gift for putting the reader in the moment, whether the moment is between the speaker and father, the speaker and child, or the speaker and himself. No relationship or observation goes unexamined. Both longtime readers of poetry and those new to the craft will enjoy this fine collection by a fine poet.

WORD

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For over a year, I have consistently read the poetry of Gene Barry. I have read it and re-read it and read it again and it always has me coming back for more. His words offer us a universal kaleidoscope of emotion – of feeling. They are haunting words – raw to be bone words – words that take us over the edge – but always bring us back. His words are also gentle words – loving – always from the heart – leaving us feeling as if – knowing that – we are, in fact, and especially as we read and absorb his poetry, one. The pieces in Unfinished Business are some of the most magnificent poetry you will ever read – so if you’re in the mood for some deep down and dirty/tell it like it is/make you wanna do it all over again words, then grab a copy of Unfinished Business…but…you’ll never be finished…reading his work.

Jame Bourey – USA

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Stones in their Shoes

cropped-final-stones-front-1.jpg

Turkish Baths

The poem is an exercise in heroic exorcism. It is a blast of human energy.

 

Tactile Moments

It is a superb piece, wild and exacting, and remote and challenging.

 

Stones in their Shoes

Great poem. I love the drive and push and forgiveness of it. Very very good. We may spend a life making peace with our fathers.

 

Professor Robert Welch

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