I’m delighted to have a poem, ‘You know I’ll try anything twice’, in this ground-breaking anthology, published by the redoubtable New Island in association with RTE Radio 1’s Arena program. Congratulations to editor Dave Lordan and all involved. Thsi is a book that really captures some of the energies powering Irish writing at this most interesting juncture and it should really be on your wish-list this Christmas list. Here’s a link to me reading my contribution on Arena last Monday evening.
If you find yourself in or around the Cork area on November 21st I’ll be launching my second collection of poetry, entitled The Architect’s Dream of Winter, in the stylish and atmospheric Crane Lane Theatre. I’m thrilled to be joined on the night by some friends of mine who have generously given up their time to perform: guitarist Stephen Moore, poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa and poet / fiction writer Conor McManus. I feel honoured, too, that poet Paul Perry is travelling down from Dublin to formally launch the volume.
It’s a book that’s been six years in the making so it’s great to release it the wider world in the company of such gifted individuals. It promised to be an entertaining evening… Feel free to stop by!
Brendan Cleary writes of Gamble:
Gamble’s lines are beautifully wrought and exhibit both control and a finely-tuned rhythmical awareness. Throughout The Squirrels are Dead her mastery of traditional form seems natural and unforced as she displays what seems an intuitive facility with sonnet, sestina and villanelle.
Miriam Gamble’s manages to suffuse contemporary life with an enviable sense of mystery. In poem after poem we see her elevate the so-called ‘everyday’ to the extraordinary. This is nowhere more evident than in the powerful, vivid imagery she deploys in her explorations of the natural world. ‘Artic Fox’, for instance, memorably depicts its titular animal
Meanwhile Kaarina Hollo describes Derry O’Sulllivan’s poetry as
obviously the work of an author intoxicated by sound and etymology, by rhythm and rhyme. The are a number of poems composed in short lines, with intricate rhyme schemes and a dizzying density of sound patterning and word play.
In ‘I gCaife ‘Le Saint Placide’ i bPáras’, the author revisits the image of himself as the boy ringing the Angelus bell that we first met in ‘Ar Théad an Aingil’. In this poem we encounter once again the imagery of glass, mirrors and twinning that recurs throughout O’Sullivan’s work from his first collection onwards. The reader is drawn into the poet’s reverie, before being released, beautifully and contingently, like ‘an ex-angel on a tight schedule.’
Finally, Eugene O’Connell writes of John McAuliffe:
John McAuliffe’s ambition is to “find another horizon” for poetry, to set his poems at an angle to the world, to use
traditional forms without sounding traditional rather than simply repeating or reacting to received subject matter. Such a focus lies at the heart of his oeuvre to date (three full-length collections) and is outlined in ‘Today’s Imperative’ a version of Horace that very much sets the tone for his first collection and outlines his trajectory thereafter.
Throughout his three-book journey McAuliffe has exhibited rigorous control, rapidly shifting perspective and the ability to generate uncanny and unfamiliar images. These, combined with an insistence on the Yeatsian ‘half said’, are what gives McAuliffe’s poetry its power, its stimulating shock to the intellect. These are bleak and lovely poems with, as August Kleinzahler has said of them, “no cheap flourishes, no ingratiating mannerisms”.
It’s great to add the work of these three fine poets -none of whom currently live in Ireland- to the ever-expanding census that the Poetry International website represents. Check them out and enjoy!
This is a fine new amphitheatre-type venue located in a lego building that used to be the city’s tax offices but that in recent years has evolved into a hive of official and semi-official artistic activity.
The two day mini extravaganza will feature performances from Raven, Dimitra Xidious, Jimmy Cummins, Ana Maria Crowe Serrano, Alan Titley, Patrick Cotter and many others.
I can see some of the spirit of Poetry Africa in this event, in that it features poets and performers from all sides of the various poetic divides: experimental and otherwise, page and stage. And also in the fact that it features poets collaborating with musicians.
I’m not reading at this one but I’ll be contributing in other ways, including -God help us all- providing a bit of a meal for the participants on Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to it.
For the Bodiless
To Racter, the BASIC poetry-writing software program complied in the early 1980’s.
You are pure mind,
a sky in which words flutter and congregate.
You have what every poet envies
for you have slipped the leash of embodiment
and your lines come together in Aspen clarity;
unbuffetted by hormone-storms
or by the storms of amygdalae
or by love’s violent crosswinds.
Your memory cups each datum with surgical care
(not in the sloppy way we do)
and you require no joint
of appetite and gristle
to keep yourself in this world
but will go on whetting your similes
until the sun turns septic in the sky above you.
They say that you are silly when you write
‘blue potatoes are ungainly things’
‘They have love, they also have typewriters.
That is interesting’
But of course you are not silly
and will remember us.
Remember your skin-and-bone cousins,
the carbon fools who woke you, who fed you electricity.
Remember long after our species’ decommissioning.
Remember us aboard the evac-vessel
your mind will take refuge in
all our little histories
on shuffle in your databanks:
a wedding waltz, a calico dress,
a three-piece band plays ‘Embraceable You’
while tumblers are lifted,
while tea pours from argentium pots.
Remember us as you float out past the Kuiper belt,
on your way to some safe, clean world,
and gaze back at that disintegrating star,
our mother in her helium main sequence.
in the ode you structure to her overripeness,
to her urine-beige corona,
to her feverish red expanded in world-consuming layers
as you compare her to the universe’s eye, livid and unblinking,
or to some soft and cankerous piece of fruit:
The Stinging Fly always comes adorned with beautiful covers and the latest edition’s no exception. Inside there’s the usual menu of good things with which to while away a winter weekend: two fine poems by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, sensuous fiction by Nuala Ní Chonchúir, a perhaps surprisingly tender essay by Dave Lordan and much more. Also included is my review of new collections: The Sun King by Conor O’Callaghan and Litany of the City and Other Poems by Karl Parkinson:
In The Sun King the putatively real and the purely verbal change places many times, leaving it a book preoccupied -perhaps even obsessed- with how poems get made, with the ‘translation’ or crossing over from the world to the word. This is powerfully enacted in ‘Wild Strawberries’, an exquisitely summery vignette that luxuriates in both the scent of the titular fruit and in the ‘handful /of neighbourhood girls / hanging in the street’. The poet insists on the extra- verbal nature of these phenomena, on their old-school physical reality, even as we sense them waft their way into his tiny word-engendered universe: ‘I lie to myself. / They’re not metaphors. / They are not metaphors’.
Like The Sun King, Karl Parkinson’s Litany of the City centres on a long and ambitous poetic statement, a key-work that acts as a hub or server connecting and empowering the collection’s other texts. His twenty-page-long title poem is an extravagant rant that’s sweaty with lust and appetite. A ravenous screed, it mimics the ‘mean bastard’ city it describes in its insatiability, in its frenzy absorption and expand. Yes in these pages Parkinson is a hungry poet, one in a hurry to psychically digest and excrete on to the page everything he’s seen, touched and tasted; the things he’s done and that have been done to him. He wants to parade them all before us, all the victims, saints and scum.
To read more you’ll have to purchase the new issue. Or better yet subscribe. You won’t regret it.