This weekend Poetry Ireland launches its Poetry Town initiative (from September 10 – 18) with more than 100 poetry-related activities taking place in 20 towns across the island. If you haven’t dipped into modern poetry for a while, here’s some of the latest anthologies by Irish and international poets …
Tomorrow is Beautiful by Sarah Crossan, Bloomsbury
Irish verse-novelist Sarah Crossan’s debut anthology invites readers to feel hopeful about the future. Crossan explains, “Reading, and specifically poetry, has guided me through the dark days of this pandemic and I cannot wait to share these word-cures with as many people as possible.” Crossan has chosen poems from established poets such as Langston Hughes and Emily Dickinson as well as from contemporary poets while creating new work herself.
Winter Recipes from the Collective by Louise Glück (published in October by Carcanet)
The American poet Louise Glück has written twelve anthologies and was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020. She is known for her technical precision, sensitivity, and insight into loneliness, family relationships, divorce, and death. Winter Recipes from the Collective is her first (hotly anticipated) collection in seven years.
Dancing in Odessa by Ilya Kaminsky, Faber
A rising star in the poetry world, Ilya Kaminsky is a Russian immigrant and author of Deaf Republic (he lost his hearing at the age of four). “When I lost my hearing, I began to see voices,” he has said. Dancing in Odessa is his first poetry anthology and draws on myth and Russian literary figures. His lyrical style has been likened to Chagall’s paintings – his imagination is transformative, so that even mundane settings are invigorated with equal measures of humour and torment.
The Hill We Climb and Other Poems by Amanda Gorman, Hardback
When Gorman recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at Joe Biden’s inauguration it painted a picture of a broken nation laced with references to current events, history and popular culture. Gorman demonstrated that poetry provides an awareness of our society and our environment. This month Gorman is publishing an illustrated children’s book Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem and the poetry anthology The Hill We Climb and Other Poems.
The Owl and the Nightingale by Simon Armitage, Faber
When Carol Ann Duffy resigned as the UK Poet Laureate after a ten year tenure, Simon Armitage was appointed in 2019. His grit, wit and focus on everyday matters made him a popular choice. During lockdown he collaborated with Florence Pugh to release a poem set to music about the coronavirus crisis. The proceeds went to help raise money for the domestic abuse charity Refuge (Armitage was a probation officer at one time). His latest illustrated anthology is a new version of a Middle English “debate poem” which follows his acclaimed translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl.
Shoulder Tap by Maurice Riordan, Faber
Originally from Cork, Maurice Riordan is known for his lyricism and interest in rural life and themes. Of his work, he has said, “I write to make discoveries – about the world, and about myself I suppose, but more than that to find out where the poems will take me. I see the activity as an adventure that requires circumspections and steady discipline.” Now at the forefront of contemporary poetry (he is the editor of UK Poetry Review) his fifth collection of poems poses questions on anxiety and desire.
Howdie-Skelp by Paul Muldoon, Faber
When Paul Muldoon was a student at Queen’s University, Belfast he was taught by Seamus Heaney and became a member of a group of Northern Irish poets including Michael Longley and Derek Mahon who gained prominence in the 1970s. Recurring themes in his work are political and social tensions, pastorals and ballads. (I remember attending a creative writing workshop with him during which his renowned wit and provocative use of language made a lasting impression). The poems in his new collection include a nightmarish remake of The Waste Land and sonnets that respond to the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic among others.
A Lick and a Promise, Imelda May, published by Faber Music on October 28
The debut collection of poetry by Imelda May is written in her absorbing, visceral style and encapsulates heartbreak, sex, nature and womanhood. Says May, “Poetry is good for my soul and fills my heart and mind with colour and scent. It’s intoxicating. One poem can stay a lifetime, one line can change a view. I hope my writing gives to others what inspiration gives to me. ‘A Lick and a Promise’ is how my mother described a hurried wash and it’s often how I read poetry when time is scarce. I tease in and out of my delicious books promising them I’ll be back for more.”
The Poems of Dorothy Molloy, Faber
Irish poet Dorothy Molloy was born in Co Mayo and grew up in Dublin. Sadly, she died four days before her debut collection Hare Soup was published in 2004. This collection draws together manuscript work and a posthumous collection Gethsemane Day. Her writing combines dark humour and a distinctive voice as well as a love of animals.
Collected Poems by Marianne Moore, Faber
In “Poetry”, Marianne Moore (1887 – 1972) famously said, “I, too, dislike it”. That said, she is considered one of American literature’s foremost modernist poets. Moore’s work is characterised by precise observations of people, places, and art. She was particularly fond of animals, and much of her imagery is drawn from the natural world. Randomly, she was also a great fan of professional baseball and an admirer of Muhammed Ali. This is one anthology that lends credibility to any bookshelf.
Rachel Owen, Dante’s Inferno, edited by David Bowe, Hardback
Not yet read Dante’s Inferno (me neither), then try this new publication which coincides with the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death on September 17. Rachel Owen’s illustrations for Dante’s Inferno take a radically new approach to representing the world of Dante’s famous poem. The images combine the artist’s cultural and historical understanding of The Divine Comedy and its artistic legacy with her talent for collage and printmaking. These illustrations cast the reader as a first-person pilgrim through the underworld. Owen’s work is complemented by Jamie McKendrick and Bernard O’Donoghue’s translations of episodes from the Inferno. The editor, David Bowe, is an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow in the Italian Department of University College Cork and co-director of the Centre for Dante Studies in Ireland; www.casilac.ie.
There are several poetry events taking place on Culture Night, September 17. For example, at the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, Monaghan, the Centre will host a celebration of community and the spoken word featuring contributions from contemporary poets and performers to celebrate the launch of the Poetry Jukebox installation along the Kavanagh trail in Inniskeen. And in Wicklow, the “Women in Poetry” event features local poets in the beautiful setting of Dargle Park overlooking the Wicklow Mountains on Lower Dargle Road in Bray. The participating poets are Kayssie Kay (poet laureate of the Poetry Town initiative in partnership with Poetry Ireland), Jane Clarke, and Nell Regan. For further information visit www.culturenight.ie.
To celebrate the Book Club Festival in Ennis which launches on September 11, The Old Ground Hotel, (which has lots of literary connections and portraits of poets throughout the hotel), is offering a “Poet’s Package.” This one night break costs from €200 per person sharing and includes bed and breakfast, with dinner in the Poet’s Corner, and tickets to an Ennis Book Club Festival headline event of your choice. Guests will also receive a copy of Niall Williams’ Man Booker nominated novel This is Happiness; www.oldgroundhotelennis.com.
And to complete the literary inspiration, why not spritz some of Replica’s Whispers in the Library? This scent is described as a bottled memory of “paper and waxed wood” with peppery notes combining with cedar and vanilla. The handy 30ml bottles, €56, are available from Brown Thomas stores and online at www.brownthomas.com and online at www.arnotts.ie.
Main featured image: At Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli collaborated with four contemporary poets – Ysra Daley-Ward, Mustafa the Poet, Greta Bellamacina and Robert Montgomery – embroidering their words (“Leave your door open for me/I might sleepwalk into your dreams”) onto gowns in AW19. Brava Pierpaolo!
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