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.

Home Uncategorized Solace and Silliness

Solace and Silliness

Keith Payne
The Eyes of Isaac Newton, by Iggy McGovern, Dedalus Press, 76 pp, €12.50, ISBN: 978-1910251270 News arrived within the month of Richard Murphy’s death in Sri Lanka, and then of Philip Casey’s passing in Dublin. Now, as much as ever, it’s essential that we continue to read each other. Murphy left us, among much else, with In Search of Poetry, a series of diary entries made while constructing the sonnet sequence The Price of Stone. From these entries, it seems that he was in constant search of a kind of certainty: of place, of home, of how to raise a family. He was honest enough with himself, though often too late, to admit these certainties would not bring solace. Iggy McGovern is also a poet of certainties. The certainty of the slow ticking of a public house clock, “a quarter-hour ahead”, the certainty of scientific exploration, of a life clearly recalled, the certainty of the BBC Home Service and of course, the certainty of ageing: “From broad bean to broadband / From royalty cheque to reality check / From scrapbook to scrapheap.” Or has McGovern has it in “The Bony”, a Russian doll revelation of a poem of father begetting son begetting father from his debut collection “The King of Suburbia”: “behind him / lay his bony father and, behind, / his bony grandfather, his bony great- / grandfather …all that long-lined / boniness, lying in state.” And surely the greatest certainty of all, McGovern’s formal choice throughout his career, the certain step through the sonnet. And yet there’s danger here too with McGovern scientifically positing the question “Who forced Lucifer / to carry the Big Bang inside / the centre of the Universe / and give the panicked particles / three minutes to get out?” This danger though, – as we’ve far too often come to expect from our poets born north of the border – is not a persistent presence in these poems. Though we find uncertainty in the most unexpected of places, “around the village pump” for one: a trickster play on doubt, or her academic younger sister, deconstruction, where McGovern tears through a tall tale well told at a Northern clip-along pace of a riveting story told two ways! Leaving you not so sure of who’s who or what’s what, but knowing, at least, you’ve been spun a good yarn as he pours water on some of the…

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