“Keylines is a very beautiful book, consisting of texts rich in reflections on life, in sound philosophy and simplicity, offering a generous view of what we are, or could be, in all life’s different circumstances. Agreeable and soothing reading, giving the impression that one is in the company of a woman who walks unfazed, with a benevolent smile, calmly along the road of her destiny. And such beautiful clarity in her writing!”
Guy Bonifaci, President of the Syndicat des Journalistes de la Presse Periodique in France.
“A treasury of lyrical reflections on themes of concern to us all.”
“With an acute sense of observation, the author presents her short lyrical texts following the cycle of life, addressing themes that leave no one untouched.”
Frankfurter Neue Presse.
Straight to the Heart
“Lebenslinien ,Lifelines. is a book by Ann Henning Jocelyn marketed by the publishing company Patmos as a ”gift book”.
People interested in literature are quick to turn up their noses at the word ”gift book”. And when the publisher goes on to suggest that the words by this author will ”go straight to the heart”, one may not see much point in opening the book. However, in the case of Ann Henning Jocelyn, one should definitely make an exception. Why? Quite simply: Her prose poems, which consider life from birth to death, win over the critic: They do go straight to the heart.
This Swedish author has had an amazing, highly unusual journey through life. She started out as a playwright, went to live in London, wrote an international bestseller for children, ”The Connemara Whirlwind”, now lives in Ireland, and is also active as a broadcaster.
In chapters, where the author does not shy away from addressing things like ”Identity”, ”Love”, ”Life” or even ”Soul”, the different stages of her life pass by, not only major experiences ,birth. but also minor ones, which often prove decisive, with long-lasting effects ,a dream, the death of a rabbit.. In this way she manages the rare feat of describing feelings and making them credible without for a moment becoming sentimental. She uses them as the basis of broad reflections on how to live life, how to find happiness, how to handle certain situations, how to come to terms with the pain that is a necessary part of every life. All this is expressed in texts presented in a free lyrical form, focusing directly on the significant. Unlike so much other poetry, nothing is shrouded in mystery, all is clearly expressed. What appears to be simple is in truth the result of a long, profound clearing process. As a matter of fact, the texts are full of wisdom, the summary of a few decades of life experience. A treasure chest.”
Dierk Wolters, Frankfurter Neue Presse.
The Cycle of Life
“Ann Henning Jocelyn writes brief lyrical texts on the human condition with a fine, unerring understanding of the nature of the soul. Her book follows the cycle of life, from beginning to end, dealing with themes of concern to us all: love, friendship, woman- and manhood, moments of happiness and fatal blows. The author’s warm-hearted openness and her genuine sympathy for other people’s fortunes and misfortunes make this book very special: a gem you don’t like to part with, yet immediately want to give away. With astounding sensitivity, the entire kaleidoscope of emotion is here gathered and passed on.”
“Here is a human being worth getting to know with a heart that is truly “affluent”. In sharing some of her life experiences through her poetry, she not only reveals herself as sensitive and courageous, compassionate and observant, but still in the process of growing and being healed. Her life-story touches at depth the stories of many others. Her father, a young doctor, was seriously ill with leukaemia, as he and her mother waited for her to be born. What he did not know was that this little baby girl would in time become a doctor too: a doctor of the soul.
Her first home, which she left when she was six, was between two lakes; there were golden-reeds and dark forests. This is the amphitheatre of nature where the human spirit has space to soar. The author of these poems loves liberty and independent thinking. She knows that the themes that make for a great play come out of human lives that have known tragedy, trauma and failure, fear and doubt; but also love, and letting go, joy, new beginnings and an endless search for richer meaning. This writer has a profound belief in the significance, value and loveableness of human life.
There is so much to savour in this book, to use for reflection on one’s own life, and to assimilate into one’s inner being as we share in the symbiosis which is God’s gift to us of life. Will her next book have poems on ‘Loneliness’ and ‘The desire for Intimacy’?”
Andrew Furlong, Search Magazine.
“Few literary operations are trickier than translating one’s own writings into another language, no matter whether the target language is one’s own or someone else’s. The whole idiom is different, and especially if one’s text is extremely close and personal, as Ann Henning’s is in her Keylines: the one doesn’t ever quite fit the other. In her case it’s been a question of ‘simply’ translating her meditations, which are deeply experienced and of universal relevance, back into her native Swedish. And in my opinion she has succeeded so extremely well as to put her original English in the shade, good though it is.
Few books nowadays seem to speak personally and immediately to our human condition. – – – But Ann Henning writes out of a deep straightforward awareness of such matters. – – – A dangerous field, that is, for anyone with purely literary aspirations.
But though Ann Henning has a long career behind her in the literary field, her aspirations, while fulfilled with a deep and happy grasp of language that makes them eminently readable, are to get at the root of daily life and personal life, all as a kind of long-term enterprise. The universal, it’s often been observed, can only spring out of the individual, and one can’t help liking this warm-hearted yet shrewd Swedish-Irish woman who’s obviously been through a lot of difficult things – – – finding oneself rereading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting what a presumably problematic life has taught her.”
Paul Britten Austin, Swedish Books Review 2002:2.
“Keylines by Ann Henning Jocelyn is a collection of short, thought- provoking and, at times, very moving reflections on life. And life’s alternatives…
It is the simplicity of the prose, the ease with which the thoughts are presented for the reader’s benefit that camouflages the strength of the writing. Writing like this is a rare gift: Jennifer Johnston, in The Gates and How Many Miles to Babylon? is brought to mind.
Many of the pieces have been broadcast on RTE’s “Living Word”, but deserve to live permanently on paper where they can be sampled time and again.”
Voice of Connemara.
“Keylines is a new collection from a writer who is unafraid of tackling serious matter in such plays as The Alternative, on child abuse./…/This is a grave-looking group of poems under such headings as Love, Life, Motherhood, Religion and Soul. She mixes a curious blend of the anecdotal, autobiographical and philosophical in what can be read easily: obviously mature work.
Books Ireland designates Keylines as “Upmarket, Academic, Of Literary Interest, and with Very Good Design”.
“I am usually attracted to non-fiction books, particularly to books which offer me the possibility of better understanding myself, other people, and life in general. Never having really gotten the hang of appreciating poetry, it’s a world I have increasingly wanted to explore in recent years.
Somehow I never managed to make the time for this until last month when I received a gift of Keylines by Ann Henning Jocelyn. The poetry in Keylines is presented under 12 headings, each of which encompasses key phases and issues of human existence including birth, identity, people, feelings, love, life, mind, soul and death, amongst others. Using language that is simple yet often profound, the author brought me on a journey through life – hers, mine, and the lives of others who came to mind as I read. Keylines can be read from cover to cover; but I love picking a poem at random when I have a few minutes to spare. I became engrossed in stories exuding at times joy and exhilaration, and at times sadness, hurt and isolation, real life stories mirroring the extraordinary spectrum of feelings which human existence can create within any of us. My favourite poem has to be the one about the life and death about a much loved black-and-white pet rabbit owned by the author’s son. We too have a beautiful black-and-white rabbit called James. James has become such a part of our lives, our family. He is a living example of inner peace and love. When James does eventually dies, there will be four very sad people in our home.”
Dr Terry Lynch, The Sunday Tribune.
Keylines – Readers’ Comments
“Keylines is a lovely book – the sort of book everybody needs to keep beside them – to dip into again and again, once it’s been read from cover to cover. There is so much to relate to and identify with – and much to learn from it, too.”
“I absolutely love this book, but page 14 – 15 have me stumped…”
“Keylines is so well put together and full of feelings…”
“Keylines is wonderful. Once I picked it up I had to go right to the end. So much food for thought. What a wonderful gift to be able to express thoughts so beautifully and succinctly.”
“I did enjoy Keylines, and congratulate the author on plumbing soul and spirit in a modern context.”
“Beautifully crafted, with great intelligence, sensitivity and understanding of the human condition… an admirable economy of language: simple, direct, with many moving passages. The book made me think of my own reactions and behaviour – not always with satisfaction! It’s a volume to read many many times – it will give more pleasure with each reading.”
“My natural curiosity leads me to ‘look into’ subjects that interest me on several levels at the same time. Keylines certainly did that. It is an ideal gift book – a message for all seasons.”
“A wonderful book! The ideas and thoughts have been experienced by all of us in one way or another, but most of us lack the author’s gift for expression, which is both poignant and poetic, and always inspiring.”
“Keylines has arrived at a fusion of the aphorism and the digestible… made me think of Marcus Aurelius.”
“Rich and positive – I felt it made me ‘grow’…”
“Written with unfailing honesty and feeling, and with the wisdom and experience of a tender heart, this is a book for reading and rereading, for giving and sharing.”
“I really liked Keylines. It is so different, covering all aspects of life. For me, it is a book to keep: a real treasure.”
“A Singular Life In Progress”, Connemara View, June 7th, 2007.
“Swedish-Born Writer Taps Rich Seam of Life”, Connacht Tribune, June 1st, 2007.
“Poet’s Corner”, Sunday Times, May 20th, 2007.
“The Countess of Connemara”, Sunday Independent, December 3rd, 2000.
“The long road to winning literary success”, Irish Examiner, April 10th, 2001.
“Snapshots”, 60 mins. interview, RTE Radio One, October 15th, 2000.
“The Arts Show”, 60 mins. interview, Connemara Radio, November 4th, 2000.