Thursday, January 8, 2009


Well , so there I was On Dawson street Dublin browsin in de bookshops looking to buy Tatu by Nuala Ni Chonchuir or Kairos by Barbara Smith( can't afford both!) but these books can't be had for love nor money in any bookshop in da pale(which in this world of un-selling poetry is a rare good complaint).So, I'm seeing if anything else catches my eye.Then I remember Nuala has a review in PIR so out of curiosity I pick it up. Now I've mixed feelings for PIR, the first poem I ever had published was upon it's hallowed pages( and let's face it ,you never forget your first time) but there's been six rejections and a lot of water under the bridge since then.Some eminent poets in there said some things I didn't like ,the poetry was often pretentiously hi-brow and not a little turgid so we fell out of love.I stopped submitting and stopped reading and was fully prepared to not like this issue at all and to put it back as soon as I read the review of Nuala's book(it was glowing be da way) but I flicked through and saw some things and names I liked (or was interested in) so,having €9.99 burning a hole in my pocket and not wanting to return home empty handed I bought it-and I'm glad I did. Of the names I'd seen and liked, Gerard Smyth and Catherine Phil MacCarthy had read well at the national gallery in the summer.(Gerard seems a nice guy, he signed a copy of THE SHOp that had a photo of mine alongside one of his Dublin poems) Richard Murphy was a friend of Ted and Sylvia, Elaine Feinstein did a great biog of Ted Hughes, John McAuliffe has a book out that I got fer Christmas and James Liddy , vona Groarke and Knute Skinner I'd read before elsewhere and liked. Any way there was a lot of good stuff in there so I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps it's been good fer a while or maybe it's just the new editor Caitriona O'Reilly? Anyway it may still look like a bag of spanners from the outside(compare it to the SHOp,stinging fly, Rialto, Ambit etc) but it's still worth buying for sure.Perhaps it's time to let all my prejudices old and new -go, be a little more open minded.One of my other bugbears had been people offering a little intro/explanation of their poem and I'd be thinking ,'just read the feckin thing will ye' but here in PIR Mark Roper offers A FOUR PAGE background to his poem 'Halcyon' and it is wonderful. So I was wrong again , as was he for not believing his mothers sighting of a kingfisher in a wood( though he had seen a deer) and so as he says in his last line ' I wear the punishment for my unrighteousness lightly; condemned whenever I pass that wood, to be on the lookout for both deer and kingfisher; condemned to try to be open to every possibility.' Thats how I'd like to be this new Year.

Just to finish I should say I was shocked to read that James Liddy had died on 4th Nov 08 and the poems in PIR were submitted just before his death, may he rest in peace.


BarbaraS said...

Re: Kairos, try Chapters in Parnell St... ;)

Good review of PIR, I enjoyed reading it too: some great poems in it, some interesting poets too and fab reviews to boot. I think the new editor is pretty sharp!

Women Rule Writer said...

Hi Total
My book is in Easons on O'Connell Street - I saw it there recently. And it should be in Books Upstairs too. Should be...
The problems are myriad: distribution (poor); lack of support for poetry in bookshops generally; publishers sometimes needing to push titles harder; lack of support for small publishers / lesser-known writers; lack of a poetry buying public etc. etc.
Thanks for the photos you sent me of my review. I do wish PIR would send me my copy...big silence from them since I re-susbscribed...don't they want my money?!

Liz said...

TFE, very fine review there...I've never seen PIR in the flesh before, so to speak,...agree that it could do with a shake-up, aesthetically-wise...looks too academic.
Looking forward to doing some poetry buying while in Dublin in Feb.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Hi Liz, Yes the front covers let the book down I think, maybe they're trying to maintain that aloof image as the poetry establishment, which is a pity coz ther's some real good accessible poetry in there.The front cover is quite frankly awful.What will ye buy in Feb? I've such a long list of books I want and feck-all stamps.
Ah well.
Ps I'm sure I'll be adding your book to da wanted list in the not too distant future!