Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review of Astonished Birds and Imaginary Gardens in the Irish University Review

Two hardPressed titles, Imaginary Gardens by Billy Mills and Astonished Birds/Cara, Jane, Bob and James by Catherine Walsh, are reviewed by J.C.C. Mays in the new experimental Irish poetry issue of the Irish University Review. Here are four short quotes to give you a taste of the full essay.

On Imaginary Gardens:

At the heart of this process is the relation between words and music: the placement of words as determined by their grammatical meaning and the different relation established by their sounds. The relationship can emphasise, destabilize, and co-exist in a multitude of ways that make up snatches of harmony ‘heard beyond / the ear’s range’

No page of text in this book will be entirely complete and the hundred pages overall enact a process like a film slowed down to its separate frames… A complete story contained in one frame of a poem or a faster projection would provide different kinds of satisfaction but both would override the point.

On Astonished Birds/Cara, Jane, Bob and James:

The pages forcefully challenge what they oppose, almost as if it was alive and might at any moment speak back; they make clearer what is not than what is, and the point about this poem is that the unspoken, controlling forces are at the edge, squeezed out, skewed.

Irish poetry has always hidden its sharpest criticism under the mask of comedy … and the present instance is distinguished by its genuine sympathy for a sick society. The four characters involved are pathetic, but also simply a hoot. If you weren’t laughing, you’d want to cry. That’s a rare thing when it’s part of a larger argument about poetry as a model of consumption in a market economy that is fast consuming what it feeds.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Poster Poems: Forgetfulness

On the Guardian books blog now. With poems by Emily Dickinson, Sara Teasdale, Thomas Hardy, Billy Collins, Austin Dobson, Shelley, Anne Stevenson, W.B. Yeats and Dannie Abse.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Poster Poems: Cars

Now live over on the Guardian. Discussing poems by George Oppen, Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Bly, Dorothy Parker, Reginald O'Hare Gibson, James Dickey, Carl Shapiro and Kathleen Fraser.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Poster Poems: Islands

Now live on the Guardian Books Blog, discussing poems by Richard Murphy, Robert Browning, Yeats, EA Robinson,  Elizabeth Bishop, Hugh MacDiarmid, and Kate Llewellyn.