A Grief Cave (Downloadable PDF)
by Ben Gallagher
A Grief Cave is a heartbreaking and life-affirming debut collection. In it, Ben Gallagher searches for the “secret face in the dark” of his partner who died suddenly nine years ago. The book—arcing out of darkness toward a new relationship and children, shades of light—remains excruciatingly open despite immense pain. “After a death ... // the exact volume of a cathedral / a lit candle / curve in the road at night ...” Gallagher’s A Grief Cave keeps a steady focus on the world as it evolves around him, pursuing the “trace of desire’s echo” through the passage of time. The result is immersive and cathartic.
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Ben Gallagher lives in West Dublin, Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia) with his wife and two children. He is a Zen practitioner with the Oak Tree in the Garden sangha. This is his first poetry collection.
Ben Gallagher’s A Grief Cave moves with memory, acknowledges emptiness, permits loss alongside life. In dialogue with the phenomenological, poets, and poetry, Gallagher offers another form of attention. Grieving and giving, a cave to care.
~ Hoa Nguyen,
author of A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure
The question Why? at the heart of this collection acts as a threshold. The liminality of being here and being gone is attended to with an acuity and tenderness that offers the reader a glimpse into the unsayable, the unfathomable. In this way, the poems and essay hold a space where that liminality is palpable and alert. And not something to move through quickly but more an experience to consider, to honour, before returning, inevitably, back to the vitality that is life. What is significant is how this collection makes that current legible and moves along with the slow and fast and constant change we all know that is moving constantly beneath words.
~ Sue Goyette,