Monday, 6 December 2010

Jilted City by Patrick McGuiness

This review is 'under construction'. For the latest 'finished' review, read the previous blog about 'Identity Parade'.

Patrick McGuiness is an exciting talent who has emerged recently, whose laconic verse can be both memorable and moving. Being of Belgium and Northern Irish ancestry, he writes about being in-between places and history (it should be said that Brussels features more in his work than Belfast).

His new collection Jilted City encompasses his excellent Smith/Doorstop pamphet 19th Century Blues as well as powerful translations, most notably City of Lost Walks by 'imaginary' Romanian poet Liviu Campanu (there seems to be a growing fashion for imaginary poetic alter egos like Derek Mahon's translations of an imaginary Indian poet in Autumn Wind). The one thing which detracts from this collection is a long sequence called Blue Guide - a sequence with a poem for every stop along a route that McGuiness used to take as a child. This, it strikes me, is a formulaic exercise in overly self-conscious in-betweeness, lacking in emotional resonance. That is not true of the rest of the collection, however, which includes a vivid (though deft) poem about his father's death.

This collection is definitely worth buying, if you have the cash.

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