These poems of beauty and strength unfold one into another as Irene weaves an engaging, thoughtful cacophony of experiences lived out over six weeks in Cyprus. I was drawn into a visual arrangement of days by an extraordinarily gifted communicator. I couldn’t put this book down until I lived through all the wonder and discovery on display.
—C K Johns
Irene Koronas writes with the confidence of a life-long poet. She knows the ground on which she stands. With tenderness and honesty she takes her readers to the churches, kitchen, and dusty paths of her ancestral village. Orange trumpet flowers, rusty rocks, pregnant dogs, figs, saints, kneaded dough, peacocks, icons, olive oil and old women pepper the pages of Irene’s poetry painting a generous, complex, vibrant picture of Irene’s recollections of six weeks in Cyprus. At its heart, this is a love story. It traces the passion, ambivalence, and longing of desires that cannot be resolved simply. In recounting her journey, Irene invites us to look for the remains of our own histories, our own relinquished passions.
In Pentakomo Cyprus, Koronas finds her way through each day, image by image, sound by discrete sound, giving us the crystalline collection of things, our mixed media realities. The collection is a mobile of emotions made small and delicate or large and brusque. It is this honesty that lets the reader into a life that is wondrously and marvelously made, tiny step by tiny step, great leap by great leap.
—Afaa Michael Weaver
Irene Koronas has written both an anthem and a clear-eyed appraisal of our very human selves. When you are finished reading self portrait drawn from many, you will likely be drawn to read it again. It is that rare combination of immediacy and intimacy, coupled with the unraveling texture of a verbal fugue. Something new and provocative emerges upon each reading. Koronas understands our need for fantasies and the pain of giving them up as she considers a “list of reasons to live without lovers/ addiction rejection notices on/ refrigerator door all fantasy kissed/ goodbye this morning.” and our desire for faith in something more, “…knowing/ cannot explain relationships with the/ unknown even though knowing Gods/ yes I am who I am is as close as warm hands building sandcastles.”
—William Kollock, Professor Emeritus, School of Contemporary Arts, Ramapo College
Irene receives the smallest whispers—a scrap of paper, a single word, a passing impression and shows us reflections of the infinite, the holy, the human. Her writing evokes ancient dream-time meditations only to return to the mundane details (polish my toe nails) that bring us back to the particular, the present. Her poems are peopled by all sorts of characters; scholars, theologians, children, philosophers, musicians, painters, gamblers, activists, artists, monks, saints, lovers, fathers, mothers and on. Irene invites us, with this collection of poems, to think about who we are in relation to others—to see ourselves in many different shoes.
Ultimately it is an act of great empathy and great imagination. These poems are never didactic, often prophetic, always provocative.
—Jennifer Peace, Associate Professor, Andover Newton Theological School