Libby Hart Reviews Kate Newmann, Robyn Rowland and Jessica Traynor

By | 11 June 2015

The brilliantly written ‘Mitochondrial’ discusses, among other things, Ireland’s troubled past with Iceland. Traynor writes confidently of how:

In school books the Viking Wife
was always thick-plaited – 

apple cheeks blushed red
in her sea-shell face.

She offered a plate of bread,
her homely skill the obverse

of the rape, the slaughter,
all bloodiness exported

to the shores of neighbouring lands
where the surf foamed pink.

But Iceland tells a different story;
dull-haired Celtic wives,

noses running with cold,
faces like slapped arses,

bawling with rage
at their dead Irish men

as they were dragged
to this wind-whipped rock.

Traynor is equally astute in ‘Fire God’, included below in its entirety:

Touching the night with bright fingers
I travel backwards up the down-flow,
I break the rules.

On the edge of an estate, in a city
of the imagination, a horse
runs burning through the avenues.

In the Phoenix Park, watch for
my ashes on the dawn. Peel polyester
from the bone. Money burns.

Liffey Swim is a confident first collection. The quality of its work guarantees that Traynor is a poet to keep reading and listening to. Her language is fresh, erudite and engaging. Her writing future is sure to be a bright one.

The three collections represented in this review provide the smallest selection of the Irish poetry publishing scene. Even so, they give the impression that there is a robust small press industry despite recent economic difficulties and significant reductions to arts funding. It is also encouraging to note such poetic diversity and to acknowledge the range of subject matter these poets are writing about from Belfast, Connemara and Dublin.

This entry was posted in BOOK REVIEWS and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work: