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 With Proust Down Memory Lane

With Proust Down Memory Lane

Dick Edelstein
Liner Notes, by Ciaran Berry, Gallery Press, 88 pp, €11.95, ISBN: 978-1911337478 At first glance, the poems in this volume immediately appeal. It is something about the bright, attractive surface of the words and the light-hearted tone that seems to demand little of the reader – just the ticket when one is in the mood for a leisurely read. Such an impression might well be the first judgment of readers in the habit of leafing through an unfamiliar volume of poetry, looking for a flash of recognition, a point of entry that says we want to read this text. But the complex subtext emerges as references to iconic milestones draw readers down the pathways of memory. Since sensation and emotion are the glue that binds memory, the paths marked out through reference to landmarks of popular culture transport readers willy-nilly to the terrain of recollection and feeling – a roiling counterpoint to the tranquil surface, its bulk submerged like an iceberg. Although this volume has no formal textual divisions other than the individual poems, it is highly structured and articulated thematically through leitmotifs and major themes, and above all by means of an all-encompassing metaphorical device: the image of a record album – with all its appurtenances – that, through deliberate metaphor-mixing, sometimes becomes a compact disc or a mixtape. Sooner or later the perusing reader will be drawn towards a sequential reading of the book, embroiled in its running narrative that begins even before the first titled poem with the invocation that prefaces the volume: Once more, the sprockets turn, engage the spools – I’ve pressed record so that you can press play. … In this jewel case, on this inlay card, for you: the song sequence of what I’ve tried to say. Once more, the sprockets turn, engage the spools – I’ve pressed record so that you can press play. The opening poem “Liner Notes” serves as both introduction and instruction manual: Because this song’s made of the airwaves a time machine you start to play the air guitar of memory, making a country so you can walk back into it, like a man on rewind in a silent film, his whiskey tumbler filling up as he rises from his stool and steps backwards towards the avenue where cars, cabs, trucks reverse away from him, and the lights, for once turn amber to green; where the two hands on his…

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