The first thing I noticed when handed this little gem, was how good it felt to the touch. But, I wondered if it could deliver a sufficient taste of Ireland in just ten modern poems. The blurb on the back cover refers to the ancient poetic tradition of Ireland, which is a daunting ‘crowd of witnesses’ to live up to.
It may be small, but it faithfully represents all the essential elements: the history and legend of a land always at the edge of arrogant empires; the reality and experience of those who have known their land intimately, sometimes in suffering; the grief and the hope, and the determination not to despair; the dream and imagination of their voices, in language that defines them, yet liberates. It is the voice that stands out here, a modern voice that retains all of this tradition.
Some of the lines that delighted me on first reading are:
“I loved her from the day she died.”
“They kissed at the edge of death.”
“Every beginning is a promise”
“a mojo of words / in the back pocket / of the weirdo poet / busking for bursaries.”
But this is such a re-readable little set of poems, I expect to discover much more.
I recommend this booklet. What a delightful gift it makes, with a weight and value beyond its size.
Peter O’Grady is a member of Town Hall Poets, the Poetry Society Stanza group in Trowbridge, and is a regular performer of his poems at Words & Ears in Bradford on Avon and other places.