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ISBN: 978 1 857545 09 8
Categories: First Collections
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: February 2001
216 x 135 x 6 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Two men might float a cow to Mweenish
in a slapdash currach on a slow, calm day
but even the Twelve Disciples, God knows,
would have been damn glad to get out alive,
as these trippers from the sloping ferry
with their high-strung boots and rucksacks
leaped on to our boat ('Watch my foot!')
and we got lower and lower in the water.
from 'St. MacDara's Island'
The title Thumb's Width, from the German Daumenbreite (roughly equivalent to an inch), indicates the book's preoccupation with the miniature. Sketching the child-hood relationship between two brothers, the poems frequently focus on small objects - shrimps, cigarettes, 'cat's eyes', plastic soldiers - to which childhoods become attached. Beginning on the west coast of Ireland, particularly the tiny islands where human settlement has ceased, the book travels out, geographic-ally and thematically, by means of a variety of lyric, comic and dramatic forms. These patterns act to fold the smaller, remembered patterns of an Irish childhood into the larger shapes of the adult world.
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