Dempsey’s “Two Candles” poetry collection reviewed by Riehlife

Click here to read an earlier Riehlife post relating to Dempsey’s writing process for “Two Candles.”

Ernest Dempsey uses the defining image of light as the threading metaphor through his collection of 74 selected poems contained in 84 pages. Light as an archtypal image is the perfect connecting theme as Dempsey’s mind roams classic philosophic territory of good and evil, the state of society through consumption and labeling others, the nature of art and the career of the artist, surfaces and what is not so easily seen. In one so young, it is all the more striking to find such profound exploration and depth in this slim volume published by My Lucky Guitar Press in Australia. The book can be purchased here ($14.92). Dempsey’s previous books of poetry and short stories has been published by Work Audience (

While formally written in unrhymedverse, still there is something about the somberness of this search for moral principles that reminds me of Victoria poets such as Lord AlfredTennyson, AnneBronte, Rudyard Kipling, and Thomas Hardy writing in the 19th century. Bringing these themes into 21st century views is an interesting task.

The title “Two Candles” came out of a writing practice Dempsey began in last winter. Ernest say, ” I had a few candles in my room to light the place in case of a load-shading episode. One night, I just felt like writing a poem and doing so in candle light. So I switched off the electric bulb and let my creative flow along with my pen on paper in the aura generated by candle light.”

Thus started a writing habit that lasted for a couple of months. Ermest switching off the light, lit two candles and wrote a poem or sometimes two poems each night.

Dempsy discovered that not only did two candles provide more light, but somehow seemed more beautiful and soothing than one, providing comfort in his solitude. Symbolically, Dempsey believes the second candle came to represent, his brother Shais, “my second self, my half being,” whom the book is dedicated to.

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