Dawn of this Hunger

By Sally Read

This cycle of poems reflects the life of Christ, by giving voice to and meditating on those closest to him and those who were touched by his earthly ministry. The defining events of the faith are explored with depth and freshness here, but also the tender moments that perhaps we consider less: Mary feeling the first movements of her baby within her, or Saint Joseph sitting beside his sleeping son. Written during Read’s first ten years as a Catholic and poet in residence of the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs, the central narrative is interwoven with lyrical, contemplative pieces about God and our relationship with him. This book gives voice to what at times can seem inexpressible, bringing Christ closer by entering into his life and expressing his life in us.

SALLY READ has published three collections of poetry with Bloodaxe Books. Her 2010 conversion to Catholicism is recounted in Night’s Bright Darkness, which was followed by Annunciation, a Call to Faith in a Broken World. Her work has been translated into five languages, and her articles have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement and The Tablet. She hosted Radio Maria England’s Poetry for the Season, and since 2010 has been poet in residence of the Hermitage of the Three Holy Hierarchs. She lives in Rome, Italy with her family. More about her can be found at www.sallyread.net.


ISBN 978-1621387923
Angelico Press/Second Spring, 2021

70 pages, paperback


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Dawn of this Hunger is a startling literary achievement. Nothing in the work of any contemporary poet prepares us for the impact of these poems. To the passion and exactness with which Sally Read evokes the story of the Incarnation—from conception to resurrection—is added, in poem after poem, against all expectation, ways in which so many of the details of that story, both great and small, are found to be resonant with our own lives, our own fears and desires, our own hunger. At one moment, informed by a transcendent lyricism, at another by a bold, uncompromising directness of thought and expression—these bright, sharp lyrics are as down-to-earth as they are visionary. They peel away, as well, the dull varnish of false sentiment, the false colors which have, for centuries, all too often obscured the true and living image of Mary and of her Son. In that sense, we can say, the work is revelatory.

Paul Murray, O.P. , author of A Journey with Jonah: The Spirituality of Bewilderment

From ‘The Quickening’ to the poet’s raw reality in her ‘Passion’ offerings, to the stunning description of ‘The Mother’ (just to name a few), the poetry of Sally Read transports the reader to poignant destinations. Through her imaginative wordcraft we perceive the past as ever-more present. We are suddenly witnesses with a conscience as ‘tender as a sunburned neck,’ to quote Flannery O’Connor. Dawn of this Hunger by Sally Read will thrill the reader.

Barbara McGuigan , Host of EWTN’s The Good Fight

These poems wrestle with, and partake of, the incredible. Steeped as they are in awe, they are doubly engaged as they grapple viscerally and sensitively with the Christian mysteries. Sally Read enters into situations that are at once personal occasions and episodes of sanctified lore. Rarely does a poet take on such quiet, persistent enormities as are present in these poems. They are devout avowals made before presences that have shaken her being to its spiritual core.

Baron Wormser , Poet Laureate of Maine

This gorgeous, lyrical collection of poems by Sally Read glows with luminous insight. Dawn of this Hunger offers a profound yet accessible series of meditations on the life of Christ, sensitively reimagining the perspectives of those who knew him, intercalated with a shimmering series of more personal reflections. Christ’s mother figures strongly as Read dwells on the embodied mystery of her unique maternal calling. The book’s many voices reflect the light and shadow of our own natures. Throughout, language is beautifully woven, ‘like honeycomb’ (‘The Hermit’), and each poem offers its own light, ‘like buds on the stark branches of our prayer’ (‘The Quickening’). This is resonant, contemplative, truthful, and frequently joyful poetry.

Sarah Law, author of Therese Poems