Reviews - What do customers think about Wake Forest Series Of Irish Poetry (Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry)?
An anthology of selected poems intended to introduce a broad audience to five Irish poets Nov 10, 2005
The Wake Forest Series Of Irish Poetry, Volume One is an anthology of selected poems intended to introduce a broad audience to five Irish poets, old and young, who have not previously been widely published in North America: Harry Clifton, Dennis O'Driscoll, David Wheatley, Sinead Morrissey, and Caitriona O'Reilly. Prefacing the collection is a brief biography on each contributor, rounded out with literary comments about each contributor's works and tone. The poems themselves are rich with emotion, imagery, and kinship to Irish soil and culture. A superb introduction to contemporary Irish poetry through the voices of previously overlooked artists. Glaciers: There is no sea in my blood. /There is nothing that cannot be stopped. // God's wand is absolute. / Looking at glaciers // Jinxed into stillness - / I miss oceans in my head.
Five new Irish poets for you! Aug 31, 2005
I've taken a few Irish Studies courses over the years and have always liked Irish poetry, but must confess to not having heard of any of these five writers before picking up this book. They range in age from mid fifties to early thirties, and come from both Southern and Northern Ireland. The selections are very generous, and give the reader a real flavor of the work. First up is Harry Clifton, who likes to rhyme and is something of a boho existentialist. The speakers in his poems tend to be glamorous outsiders who worry about women, male desire and the Vietnam war - all the big questions. Clifton does persona a lot too: philosophers, artists, mystics. He talks about `the agelessness / of the man with no birth certificate, / Innocent of history', which reminded me of Derek Mahon's famous poem `The Fire King'. I get the feeling that Harry Clifton would be a really fun guy to spend an evening with in a French or Italian town: he'd know all the good bars, and all the local painters and musicians. Or that's my hunch anyway. Dennis O'Driscoll must be the Thomas Hardy of Irish poetry. He writes about just the kind of middle class lives of quiet frustration that Clifton doesn't. He goes for the uncomfortable but true rather than the beautiful but false. The people in his poems tend to have mortgages and desk jobs, usually with a sprinkling of black humor and puns thrown in. When he describes a woman wasted by illness he says `to weigh so little / she must have taken / enormous pains'. Sometimes he satirizes the contemporary Ireland of newfound wealth. There is a long poem about office work that has lots of lists. But then there is a very good short poem called `Water', which summarizes his whole style. He's like a refreshing drink of water. David Wheatley is different again. He starts off with nice little poems about his garden and sleepwalking, then gets all satirical and angry in a sequence about the nineteenth century (I think) poet Mangan, then drops the Dublin theme and starts writing about birds of prey and Irish myth. It's all very varied. The last poem is in prose and is called `The Treasures of a Folklore Beyond Compare', which I assume is intended ironically. He always seems on the point of exasperation, for some reason. Sinead Morrissey is from Northern Ireland. Maybe that explains why she takes religion so seriously. There's plenty of it here, even though she seems to have grown up in an orthodox communist household. Go figure! These poems have a more mystical feel to them than those of the other four writers. She has also travelled around alot, and writes about Japan and New Zealand. The poems I enjoyed most were the ones where she sweeps us along in a kind of descriptive rapture, like in `Between Here and There' and `To Imagine an Alphabet'. She even has a September 11 poem. She takes herself quite seriously, I think, but in a good way. Caitríona O'Reilly writes very mysterious poems too. Most of the work I see in magazines over here is in an everyday colloquial style, very laid back in tone, but O'Reilly's poems have a kind of psychic tension to them that kept me on my toes. Of the five writers here she writes the best about the natural world. She is very sensitive to her surroundings without being precious or twee. Sometimes her work hints at darker themes without really spelling out what they are or might be. So she has a kind of controlled menace, which is good. I rate her highly.
They're all good. I recommend this book highly to all readers of contemporary Irish poetry!