"Kathryn Kirkpatrick's tour de force, Her Small Hands Were Not Beautiful, proves once and for all that the scholar's detective work can serve the poet's task. With eloquence and intelligence, Kirkpatrick has handcrafted a collage of words and phrases actually spoken by the friends and relations of the magnificent and mysterious Maud Gonne, muse of W. B. Yeats. Anyone fascinated by the Irish past will be glued to the remarkable title poem of this, Kirkpatrick's sixth book, as well as by the lyrical tales that precede it, amusingly titled 'Yeats Plays Golf' and 'Maeve Married.' Whether mythic or human, figures are made palpable in Kirkpatrick's magic, elegant hands."
"Her Small Hands Were Not Beautiful is a moving, insightful, and many-sided gathering of Kathryn Kirkpatrick's Irish poems. Here, Kirkpatrick is engaged with mothers and fathers, both biological and literary, and with the spaces they inhabited and created. Kirkpatrick chronicles her own travels in contemporary Ireland and her engagement with canonical figures from Irish mythology and literary and political history such as Queen Maeve, Yeats, and Maud Gonne, who are all brought to life, often humorously. At the heart of this collection is Kirkpatrick's resolution through language of the tangled terrain of ancestry, a feat she achieves because she is 'a woman, who makes her own country,' one formed by family history, the body, and multiple allegiance to, and love of, place."