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Categories: 21st Century, Irish, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (344 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2021)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Feb 2021)
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An Irish Times Best Poetry Books of 2021
In Collected Poems one of Ireland's best-loved contemporary poets brings together poems from her six principal collections, Oar (1990), The Parchment Boat (1997), Carrying the Songs (1907), Hands (2011), Keats Lives (2015) and Donegal Tarantella (2019) – more than three decades' work – a poetry of individual poems which compose a memorable, unpredictable sequence of discovery. The immediacy of our response to the beauty of our exploited planet inspire many of Moya Cannon's poems. The perfection of very early cave art she sees as testimony to the centrality of art in our evolution as humans. Geology, archaeology, history and music figure as gateways to a deeper understanding of our relationship with our past and the natural world.
'Whatever inspiration is,' she quotes Wisława Szymborska as saying, 'it is born from a continuous "I don’t know",' from the confusion of adolescence to the very different confusions of adult life. There are dark confusions and those which are luminous and filled with joy – desperation and rapture are their extremes. Each poem makes a space in which the readers share experience and discover something uniquely their own as well. She regards herself as fortunate in having developed in a culture rapidly changing, in which the poetries of the world were becoming available, in which the situation of women was radically changing. She was at once a beneficiary and an agent of change and these poems retain that enabling agency.
'Three decades of poems from one of Ireland's finest contemporary writers. It is assured, consistent and has a quality both ancient and timeless.'
Seán Hewitt, Irish Times Best Books of the Year 2021
'From start to finish the freshness and vitality as well as the accomplished choice of image and expression reveal themselves...This is a super collection.'
Malcolm Carson, The High Window
'Across three decades of work, these poems demonstrate the marked consistency of a poet whose early collections are accomplished and assured, and who knows how to take her time, and how best to use it... This is an essential book for anyone interested in contemporary Irish poetry. If, for Emily Dickinson, a good poem should make one feel as though the top of one's head were taken off, Moya Cannon's have the effect of blowing an ember, of kindling a light, revealing the strange images passed down to us.'
Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times
Praise for Moya Cannon 'Reading these poems is often akin to travelling through time - or being made aware of layers of time before our own'
Robyn Bolam, The High Window
'The unshowiness of her work, the apparent careful weighing of words, is one of its appealing characteristics: for Cannon this seems not just a question of style but a necessary way in which to be true to her own sense of wonder in the world.'
Gerard Smyth, Dublin Review of Books
'Moya Cannon has a talent for the long shot; whole vistas open up in a handful of words... a master at evoking [time's] mysterious slippery quality... [her] unerring pared back poems express [a] deep knowledge and affection again and again.'
Martina Evans, The Irish Times
'A revelation in its range and depth. These poems are written out of Moya Cannon's enduring preoccupations: with history - especially the history of exile and displacement - with music, language, loss. True to the shifts of real experience, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes ironic, she deploys an understated technique, in a voice that is deliberate, exact and witty. Here are poems, landscapes alive with birds, people and stories, that show us our world, our past and culture through the gift of just, joyful words; they help us to reflect and to live.'
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin 'These wonderful poems lay down not just a landscape and a history, but a music which is all their own, through which the reader can enter a unique dialogue between elegy and celebration.'
'In this new collection, Moya Cannon, through intent attention to light and sound and the natural materials that produce them, touches the very principle of life itself. Hands is a profoundly moving set of meditations on what it means to be alive, physically and emotionally.'
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