Thursday, January 03, 2013

Finally, a review.

There I was minding me own business the other day, eating Roses and mulled sprouts and counting Christmas dust motes in the January sun when a mate texts me and says I was reviewed in the UK.

He wasn't hallucinating, it actually happened in the winter Poetry Review. I got some good press for my book when it was launched (and it sold out), but this was still my first review in any publication, here or in the UK. Unsurprisingly,  I had been taking the silence as a bad sign, a 'no news means you're a bleedin terrible poet, stick to the day job son' type sign.

But no, at last, here it was, and twas a good review.

I was included among three other début collections, all given a nice positive academic hoof up the backside.

The reviewer was David Morley.

Here's what he had to say:

"All writing is performance. There is no serious, organic distinction between spoken and written word. If you know the Irish poet Colm Keegan’s work from his exceptional performances on YouTube you should not be surprised by how deftly his poetry transfers to the silent stage of a book. Don’t Go There is lively,
provocative and genuine. Its strengths on the page are directness, frankness and a challenging lyricism. He portrays Dublin in a similar vein to how Sean Borodale portrays his bee-hives: no exaggeration, no reaching for myths or for non-human vacuum, no literary bullshit.

The core of his work is a humane understanding beyond the clichés of vulnerability and powerlessness. Keegan is a keen observer of reality. Like most real people, he does not do distance. Very often in these poems Keegan achieves the most terrific sense of drama from the familiar. In ‘The Wind of the Spin’, two cars crash in front of the writer “as if tied to the spire / of the church they passed / like kids swinging on a maypole / after smashing into each other”. The accident is described in slow-motion, with a kind of horribly recognisable, savage bliss we cannot but help feel when we are not the victim:

So that me and all the other people
standing nearby feel
nothing but the wind
of the spin on our faces
like a kiss.
We all bear witness as
two men stumble out of
the wreckage to stare at
each other in disbelief.
Constellations of broken glass
beneath their feet.
Nobody wanting to dole out blame.
Nobody second guessing
the near miss.
Are you alright?
Are you alright?
they say.
While trying to reason this.
How close we came."

Published in Poetry Review 102:4, Winter 2012.
© The individual author © The selection, Poetry Review.

Not bad.

You can check out 'Don't Go There' here.

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Niamh B said...

Well done Colm, unsurprising and well deserved. They know their poetry!

Uiscebot said...

Thanks Niamh, I honestly was very surprised. How is your writing going? I see IPIASM went well

Niamh B said...

What's showcased in IPYPIASM in my 8 poem placements is probably the majority of my 2012 writing achievements... 2013 can only get better!!

Donal said...

A very well deserved review for Don't Go There, the first book of poetry I ever picked up that I couldn't put down again. Brilliantly written and hugely enjoyable, the poems in that book are still vivid, kicking and singing around my brain, months later.

Uiscebot said...

Thanks for that Donal. Much appreciated.