I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Hauntings

Peter Sirr
Ghostlight: New & Selected Poems, by Mark Granier, Salmon Poetry, 134 pp, €12, ISBN: 978-1910669914 A Selected Poems is a strange kind of creature, a recognised step on the shaky ladder of the poetry “career”, a sort of pause half-way up, or three-quarters of the way up the slope where the poet stops, anxiously maybe, turns around and asks himself or herself, actually, what have I done? What have I made? Is any of it any good? Maybe it’s time to sort out the wheat from the chaff, the keepers from the losers, the tried and maybe succeeded from the tried and wretchedly failed. Some people say a poet only really writes a single book, every collection, selection, collected, new selected, new collected just another packing of the one body of work as it issues and develops, circles and returns. Mark Granier’s first collection, Airborne, was published in 2001 and was followed by The Sky Road (2007), Fade Street (2011), Haunt (2015). As these titles suggest, the poems are in fact full of skies and hauntings, the missing, the dead, time’s erasures, “the slow shift of light”, the closely observing eye lighting on the city and where the city meets light and water and sky; he’s an eternal “cloud watcher, seawatcher”, as one poem has it, watching, as in “Ancient view of Amsterdam”, “a skyline accumulate from scratch” or, as in “Before and After”, “watching sea and sky / darken and simplify”. The fascination with the sea comes in for a bit of gentle mockery in one of “Three Postcards from Mr Zed”, a poem overlooked – maybe a little unjustly – for the careful selection here: The best thing about the sea is that basically it’s flat and there is no land. He doesn’t always take Kenneth Koch’s advice not to end a poem with history or the sea, and finds himself often in Blackrock, Seapoint or Sandycove “to write or just sit, long enough to take home / equilibrium, one little bucket of history // slopping gently on whatever scales / register these things.” The attraction of these places isn’t just the sea but the sense of their being liminal spaces, where city meets water, where boundaries are elided, where one kind of possibility meets another, or one kind of clarity meets another. It’s what he calls in “Evening Sun, Bullock Harbour” “this slight but definite / unstillness” which he could watch for hours, “a…

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