Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books

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2019 Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books


“Open a new book by Bernadette McBride and you know you are going to be in good company: Dionysus, Bruegel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mary Cassatt, Walt Whitman, Rilke, Klimt, and so many more. There will be music for your soul and good conversation for your mind, to which the only response is, yes, gratitude, as her poem “Online Slideshow” ends. Here is a poet of gratitude and mettle. Everything Counts offers us poems of grit and humor spun. You are not only smarter after reading this book, but braver. It’s a manuscript Eve could have used on her departure from Eden: a book to remind her of what’s possible even in a fallen world: a knowledge informed by joy as well as grief. How many books of poetry do you read that leave you hopeful, better able to live with the past as well as face the future, ready to battle whatever you must face? You offer what you can, McBride tells us at the book’s farewell: a subtle gesture, / a handful of words written on paper. We need these words”!

— Christopher Bursk, The First Inhabitants of Arcadia


“These vivid, lovely poems in Bernadette McBride’s Everything Counts remind us that art and poetry always count, that being intuitive is being smart, and that the music of life demands and inspires alertness and improvisation.”

— Valerie Fox, The Glass Book, Insomniatic


“Among the many fascinating inquiries Bernadette McBride pursues in Everything Counts, I’m particularly struck by her conversation with Peter Bruegel’s painting “The Wedding Dance,” where her irreverent originating question – “What must they smell like” – leads to a fully reverent re-grounding in the earth’s “soiled exhalations.” That physicality – the dirt, the smell, the paint evoking it all – that physicality counts; and memory counts, “the past always chasing in the wake of / heading forward”; and those half-remembered songs that “just don’t know when to stop / their hauntings,” they count too. “Perhaps it’s not half bad to be split,” McBride considers, interrogating Picasso’s “Portrait of Dora Maar,” with characteristic wit and precision turning the derangements of Cubism to striking psychological advantage. We’re surrounded by riches rendered equivocal, she suggests – soiled, partial, fugitive, split – but to perceive these subtleties and pass them on as McBride does here, that’s significant, that’s crucial. That counts.”

— Nathalie F. Anderson, Stain



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2016 Aldrich Press

“Bernadette McBride is a consummate listener. From rule-breakers to royals to rubes, from grace to groundhogs, she finds inspiration wherever she turns. Implicitly, McBride addresses the Beloved throughout her collection Whatever Measure of Light, uniting the reader with lost husband, small children, old friends, the cherished details of the planet itself. In these careful, lush poems she asks how we are to turn longing back into faith, and she finds our redemption everywhere: in driving too fast with the windows down or pausing to absorb the hatching of a single insect: every—every—thing is worthy. In a spirit of honest reckoning, McBride lets each detail compel her to confront what’s been done, left undone, done awry, and what we’ve tried to do that we should have left alone, but she urges us to forgive even before these sins are noticed, before they are even conceived, because soon enough we shall all “lift from the noisy world that clamors ever / outward, shrugs away the light.” Her collection asserts that while there is no escape from suffering, we reclaim our wholeness in tears as well as pleasure, in silence and in song. She reminds us to “en-joy” the complete spectrum of our lives, to run from nothing. Indeed, with these poems she makes us stronger that we may do so, and as she herself credits Emily Dickinson, has ‘made us brave.'”
                                                   —Nancy White, author of Sun, Moon, Salt
“In Bernadette McBride’s brilliant third collection of poems, Whatever Measure of Light, we are invited to have a seat at the banquet table for a feast of eloquent, powerful poetry [through] her impressive command of language and honed craft. She serves up the faith found in her own unique terms: a cable car stuck over the Alps, a tomato soup can, the death of a wasp, a groundhog, the complexity of soap bubbles, of Pilate’s wife’s dream, and the severe beauty found and harsh truths learned in childhood’s classrooms and playgrounds. This book is a rich feast of many subjects, lush flavors, surprising spices, and although we are full and satisfied when finished, still, we hunger for a second helping.”
                                                  —Bill Wunder, author of Pointing at the Moon
“Bernadette McBride’s Whatever Measure of Light is a thoughtful, elegant book. Intelligent and engaging, McBride’s is a powerful lyric voice that draws on personal connections and associations with a strong aesthetic sense. Skillfully compressed and superbly crafted, these poems are rich in metaphor and meaning, along with mastery of image and line. Based in world and in spirit, this book is filled with generosity and the full-hearted wisdom of love.”
                                                  —Adele Kenny, Poetry Editor, Tiferet Journal



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2014 Aldrich Press

The idea for this book began a few years ago when I found myself thinking about the ways in which food informs so many aspects of our lives—from the evocative nature of scent to the holidays and holy days we celebrate to the family and social events like weddings and dinner parties we attend. Not to mention the seemingly universal phenomenon of everyone’s making a beeline to the kitchen when gathering for almost any event in the homes of others. I wanted to call attention to the deeper meaning of food as sustenance, place it in the realm of personal histories, art, and spirit, as it has been an inspiration for still life art since the beginning of artistic expression and a central focus of  celebration for religious and secular community alike. The alphabetizing started as a whim as I made a list of foods that came to mind, and as the list grew, I realized that order made it all the more intense, like the steps taken in formal liturgy, an ordered response to the sacred in everyday life (however one chooses to define sacred). Proust’s madeleine also served as inspiration—the meditation on the power of taste and smell to call us back to earlier parts of our lives. So. With that, I offer you Food, Wine, and Other Essential Considerations—an Alphabet. Bon Appetit!

“These are elegant poems of praise to foods and meals, and they are always more than that…[some] take us to joyful and nostalgic places. Other[s]…break the heart, such as “Thanksgiving at St. Vincent’s Soup Kitchen,” which sits us down to supper with those who find their families where they can….And comedy flourishes: in one poem an aged cheese dishes on his romantic pairings with various wines. These poems nourish our spirits as much as they tempt our palates. From appetizer to dessert, this collection serves up countless delights.”
                                                 —Lynn Levin, author of Miss Plastique

“Reading these poems is like eating great oysters—each one is sweetly thrilling. McBride writes with such precision, humor, and reverence. You won’t read this book without feeling inspired to move your mouth—either to eat, or to say the poems aloud.”
                                                 —Tenaya Darlington, author of Madame Deluxe

“In her new book Bernadette McBride sets a lavish table and invites us in. She serves up poems about such comestibles as chocolate, eggplant, plums, garlic, and ravioli. She reminds us that food, like poetry, is and art and that love of rood is part of other kinds of love. You will swish these poems around in your mouth and savor their ‘hearty tang on the tongue.’”
                                                   —Diane Lockward, author of What Feeds Us



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2013 WordTech Press

“In Bernadette McBride’s new book…we keep coming back to paintings…in all of which the light teaches us to look at what we realize we’ve never quite seen in the same way before…After reading Waiting for the Light to Change, we find ourselves doing more than just using our eyes. We are being instructed in the possibilities of sight, and our minds are enlarged and our souls nourished. If you want poetry that renews your spirit and feeds your eye, open this book to any page and read.”
                                       —Christopher Bursk, author of Unthrifty Loveliness

“Bernadette McBride reminds us that the garden of this world is often desperate, but what I love most about her poems is their tightly calibrated lyricism and their stunning capacity for precisely captured insights cast in memorable imagery, poems that are spoken by memorable voices. The garden is desperate, but the lyric interiors of the characters who tend that garden calm and console us…”
                                        —George Drew, author of The View from Jackass Hill

“The poems in Bernadette McBride’s Waiting for the Light to Change examine the whole broad spectrum of a lived life from the quotidian to the sublime, finding the fantastical in a garbage truck and the humbly human in masterpieces by Van Gogh and Sargent, Kahlo and Vermeer. Fully rooted in the ‘desperate garden’ of the world, these poems grow toward—and often achieve—true beauty.”
                                          —April Lindner, author of This Bed Our Bodies Shaped