Thursday, February 05, 2009

Begnal in review of Salmon anthology

The Spring 2009 issue of An Sionnach: A Journal of Literature, Culture, and the Arts (Creighton University Press) reviews the anthology Salmon: A Journey in Poetry, 1981-2007, and singles out my poem (and collection) “Ancestor Worship” for especial note.

The review is by Drew Blanchard, who says of the anthology, “What the book does present, though, is a look into a contemporary record of Irish, Canadian, US, and European poetry. In so doing, the anthology looks both forwards and backwards in time. A recent Salmon collection by Michael S. Begnal, Ancestor Worship (2007), is an admirable book by a younger Salmon author; and the book’s title poem, included in the anthology, does this work: it looks back at multiple histories as it represents one future of poetry.”

Blanchard then gives the poem in full, and continues on: “Begnal, a dual Irish/US citizen identifies with both countries in ‘Ancestor Worship.’ The power of this poem, though, moves beyond notions of citizenship, beyond ties to nations and ancestries, and questions, in the end, ‘the right hook of history,’ asking, ‘Who’re you?’ or ‘who has history made you out to be?’ While Begnal smartly calls history-creation into question in this poem, ancestry, whether poetic or national or indefinable, is important to him, of course, in many ways. In the past, Begnal has noted the poetic influence of the Irish poet James Liddy who passed away in November of 2008. Liddy, who also had dual citizenship, was born in Dublin in 1934....” (The review then goes on to discuss Liddy and the rest of the book.)

I could not have said it better myself. And I liked the parallel Blanchard draws between Liddy and me. Incidentally, An Sionnach (which means “the fox” in Irish, for those who don’t speak it) is always worth ordering, and ditto the Salmon anthology and the Ancestor Worship collection....

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