Wednesday, December 22, 2010

James Liddy, Fest City

Photographed above is James Liddy’s latest poetry collection, Fest City. It has just been published by Arlen House (launched last month in Dublin) and features cover artwork by Kyle Fitzpatrick (click on the photo to zoom in). It is also worth noting that it’s Liddy’s first posthumous collection. Because I wrote the Afterword for this book I’m not in a position to review it, exactly, but I will say that for me personally I think it is some of James’s best work.

My Afterword, titled “In James Liddy’s Country,” begins like this:
It’s been two years since James Liddy’s death. But with Fest City I return to Liddy’s country, as I often do through reading his work. Liddy’s country is a wondrously singular place. It is not Ireland, as much as it often resembles it, and it’s not America either, as much as it resembles the latter as well. But that’s one of the reasons why I like Liddy’s country so much – because it reminds me of these familiar places, and yet it’s something distinctly else. Liddy’s country is poetry. A poet has to make his own country. His country is self-created, or recreated, through the medium of poetry. To put it another way, the poet creates himself through poetry. I’m sure that something like this has been said before, but if ever there was a poet who exemplified this dynamic, it was Liddy. In fact, in many ways, his life and his poetry were virtually indistinguishable. Both his everyday speech and his written work, at least by the time I got to know him, seemed to me to occur on a similar plane; it all seemed to come from the same place, from his own country of poetry. His letters too were like poems, with gossip and tidbits of news included. And his poems sometimes read like letters (often they are addressed to particular people), delivered via the Muse from his mind to the page stamped with international postage....

To read the rest, but especially to read these great poems, do please order the book. It is available from Kenny’s Bookshop in Ireland, and distributed in the U.S. by Syracuse University Press.

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