Radiant is a poetic exploration of one hopeful person’s healing journey through cancer—from missed appointment, to mammogram, to diagnosis, to surgery, chemo, and radiation, through hysterectomy, genetic testing through to wholeness. Kate Marshall Flaherty’s luminous poetry is raw, honest yet radiant and life-affirming. The poems are chronological, yet timeless; they are courageous and graphic, yet tenaciously realistic and positive. These poems are unflinching in their exploration of “fear, death, the whole shebang.” They vary in form from odes to eulogies, from free verse to prose poem to “notes to self,” “welcoming angels,” “lighting up the night,” voicing, blessing, questioning, raging, and eventually settling into a radiant space, of acceptance and gratitude.
“Kate Marshall Flaherty’s Radiant inspired by her cancer journey challenges us to confront our own mortality and to live in the now of each sacred moment. Visceral, gut-wrenching yet affirmative, her luminous, courageous poems uplift and hearten us even as she tastes the bile rising from somewhere sterile and white, dreads chemo’s red-electric juice stung into my veins, and blisters from a medical sunburn. Daring to ask, Am I a burnt offering, she glows with love for her family, friends and valiant self, worthy of the medal of honour she pins on her own wounded chest.”
—Donna Langevin, author of In the Cafe du Monde and Brimming
“Radiant perfectly encapsulates Marshall Flaherty’s poems about cancer. Her oceanic images describe a pilgrimage which suffuses her tumour with divine light: By the time you saw me – / bright as a silver lure in an ocean mound/ I shone out from darkness // Wanted to be found! (“Tumour”). I will not see cancer as an enemy/ nor foreign intruder (“Welcoming Angels”). Her compassionate cadences, emotionally resonant sound-combos and evocative forms— evidence of poetic mastery—invite the reader on a sacred sojourn. Darkness, as in genetic markers, pain, fear, loss… becomes a light-infused blessing, a spiritual discipline requiring courage, surrender, and faith. The omnipresence of cancer in our time, almost an epidemic, and the poet’s skill and slant make Radiant a must-read for everyone.”
—Katerina Vaughan Fretwell, author of Dancing on a Pin and We Are Malala
“Kate Marshall Flaherty’s collection, Radiant, emanates optimism in the face of cancer. The narrator returns to that positivity often, even after intense fear and anger. In “Welcoming Angels” her narrator refuses “to see cancer as an enemy / nor foreign intruder…” There is even empathy for the disease. But Marshall Flaherty is aware of the journey she’s on. She moves from rational consideration of a family history of cancer to desperate bargaining in “Moon Tides, IV Hysterical” where she insists she does not “…need a womb to love, / only a place / to lay my quarrel down.” Wonder, even at her own process, makes the narrator radiant and perhaps even saves her from the darkness which envelops her as she endures the intensely difficult treatment for breast cancer. Kate Marshall Flaherty rebounds from despair with playful humour, resilience and wisdom.”
—Kate Rogers, author of Out of Place and Foreign Skin