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.