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 The past present

The past present

Afric McGlinchey
The Gravity Wave, by Peter Sirr, Gallery Press, 96 pp, £11.95, ISBN: 978-1911337652 Peter Sirr is a Gallery poet, with eleven collections, including Marginal Zones (1984) (winner of the Patrick Kavanagh award), Selected Poems 1982-2004 (2004), which was also published by Wake Forest University (2005), and The Thing Is (2009), which won the Michael Hartnett award. He has been described as “one of the brightest stars of the generation of Irish poets born in the 1960s”. His latest publication, The Gravity Wave, is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. If I had to select one word to define Sirr’s preoccupation in this collection, it would be “connection” – particularly with the indefinable. As Nietzsche once put it: “the invisible threads are the strongest ties.” The title evokes several possible interpretations and he extrapolates these, suggesting, among other things, both a momentum (wave) and a restoring force (gravity). “The gravity wave” connects all life, past, present and future. In terms of the universal, our existence may be of negligible consequence, and transient, but our songs and stories, energy, our very particles, are all part of the continuum. It is a common poetic device to use myth as a vehicle to convey themes, and here Sirr alludes to Ulysses, Neptune, Eurydice, among many other cultural, social and artistic references. What distinguishes The Gravity Wave from the usual themes of nostalgia, consciousness of time passing and the associated sense of invisibility ageing brings, is a kind of psychic connection with both the observed and the unseen worlds, a conflation of past and present, where “history claws the mud and curses in your ear …” and “centuries hang like apples on the trees” (“Walking Home”). The opening sonnet takes elements from a domestic breakfast scene and whirls them synchronously with others across eras and space: “Ulysses struggles from a speaker, nearly dead … I lift my cup and a star / explodes, a meteor crashes into the moon.” (“The Now Slice”). A similar effect is achieved in “The Comeback”: “you swim / through a crowd / and the building / collapses”. The latter poem shifts from concrete evidence of a city being rebuilt (jackhammers, cranes, yellow hats, high-viz vests), to an earlier city from “the tangle of centuries”, these convergences blurring reality:             Can I really own these hands, these eyes darting from building to building face to face, your absence cunningly disguised as a street in spate a bridge raised to let alien…

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