Nobody will see us
Out of bleak contexts and grey ingredients, Conor O’Callaghan creates a spare, emotionally fraught story of home, homelessness and unsettlement. Yet there is no absence of emotion: the approach is to strip away the fat – to permit a wide view, while withholding much by way of detail.
A Plump Pillow
Japanese poets have traditionally taken pilgrimages to locations of great scenic allure, seeking out wondrous places that are so inviting, so lovely, that poems wish to settle in them. A German professor wakes from a disturbing dream and journeys to such a site. Why? He has no idea.
Time and the Woman
Eimear Mc Bride’s new novel presents us with a woman, or maybe a series of women, at various stages of life, presented within the confines of a hotel room, but on each occasion in a different city. There is a twist at the end. But it’s not a plot twist, because there is no plot.
Towards the close of Gerard Smyth’s quietly impressive collection, a sequence of elegies acts as both an act of creative solidarity and a defiant rebuttal of creativity’s all-too-inevitable cessation. The poems, rather like memory itself, call out to and answer each other.
The Joys of Fieldwork
The eloquence and elegance which often emerge from folklore archives is a thread which connects each of the essays in a new collection in honour of Ríonach uí Ógáin. Each of the authors gives his/her own insight into the ‘doing’ of fieldwork, which can be both a vocation and an addiction.
‘We were the Good Friday Agreement generation,’ wrote the journalist Lyra McKee, shot dead by the New IRA while working in Derry a year ago, ‘destined to never witness the horrors of war but to reap the spoils of peace. The spoils just never seemed to reach us.’
As the scale of Labour’s defeat became clear, a succession of Corbynists emerged to insist that the voters’ rejection of their policies was not a rejection at all and that nothing need change: a strange product of a new ‘leftism’ that exists not to seek power but largely for its own sake.
Ins and Outs
Psychologist Henri Tajfel was an argumentative man and he encouraged similar aggressive attitudes in his colleagues and students. He tended to make up his mind early, a colleague wrote, if you were on the side of the angels or not. And he never changed his mind.
The Poet and the City
Austin Clarke, who started his writing career during the Celtic twilight years and adapted some Irish language poetic forms and themes, has suffered from falling on the wrong side of the nationalist/modernist divide, a contrast partially built on critical essays by Beckett.
For the Cause
In the mid-1930s, 40,000 men enlisted in the International Brigades to fight fascism in Spain. Many died, while the recollections of some who returned, like those published in a moving memoir from the mid-1970s, do not cast much credit on the organisers of the resistance.