My review of three Irish poets’ recent work is published in the latest edition of Poetry Ireland’s journal of criticism and opinion, Trumpet (Issue 7, Winter 2017/18). My review focuses on Trevor Joyce, Fastness (Miami University Press, 2017), Nerys Williams, Cabaret (New Dublin Press, 2017), and Susan Connolly, Bridge of the Ford (Shearsman Books, 2016).
Here are just a few snippets:
Following on from his previous engagement with Edmund Spenser, Rome’s Wreck (2014), Trevor Joyce’s Fastness is a translation from the heightened English of Spenser’s Mutability Cantos (written during the late 1590s) into a more contemporary if still intensified language, which Joyce describes as ‘an artificial dialect’. . . .
Like Joyce, Nerys Williams too is concerned with the impact of history and oppression. In Cabaret, however, she takes up the more contemporary history of the twentieth and early twenty-first century, moving across Ireland, Wales, and the United States. Her focus is often on the ways in which capitalism and imperialism shape society and the environment, but also on the role of art and culture in resisting dominant discourses.
Susan Connolly, in Bridge of the Ford, bridges the ancient (the field of Gaelic place-name study known as dinnseanchas) with a kind of work that is usually seen as modernist or avant-garde (visual, concrete, typographical poetry). In her introduction, Connolly states that she is influenced by bpNichol, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Dom Sylvester Houédard, on the one hand, and the Irish illuminated manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Book of Durrow and the Book of Kells, on the other, in equal measure.