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One Little Room

Peter McDonald

Cover of One Little Room by Peter McDonald
Categories: 21st Century, British, Irish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (96 pages)
(Due Nov 2024)
£11.99 £10.79
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • The poems in One Little Room enter and explore confined spaces in history and personal memory. The spaces prove not to be as small as they seem from the outside: they expand and interconnect to produce new and dazzling perspectives out of the limits of concentrated meditation and formal shape alike.

    Poems inhabit the surroundings of a Belfast childhood, pushing these into dimensions where time and space play tricks on memory and circumstance. Boxes, lost travelling trunks, and small volumes enclosed in the dark are transformed into bright gateways to freshly-imagined realities. Public and private histories undergo radical reconstruction in the sequence ‘Centenary’, where a hundred years of Northern Ireland and the century since the birth of the poet’s father coincide to produce a different kind of history; a series of discursive poems addressed to different women mark, like standing stones, the book’s developing engagements with past, present, and future. From Harry Houdini in a milk-churn to the French poet St. John Perse in the same room with Hitler; from Emerson in New England to Yeats at Rosses Point and Omaha Beach; and from the work on free paraphrases of the Psalms to the work done in a carpet-fitter’s cutting room in the 1970s, poems here repeatedly turn confinement inside-out. In this, his eighth collection, Peter McDonald effects transformations of memory and history, loss and love.
    Peter McDonald was born in Belfast in 1962. His first book of poetry, Biting the Wax, was published in 1989, and since then seven volumes of his verse have appeared, including his Collected Poems (2012). He has written four books of literary criticism, including Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland ... read more
    Awards won by Peter McDonald Short-listed, 2017 London Hellenic Prize (The Homeric Hymns)
    Praise for Peter McDonald 'McDonald is often impressively adept at using varied metres for cadence, musicality, tension. He resists the over-dramatic, but is a poet of fierce feeling - moved and often moving.'
    'Peter McDonald's unsettling imagination occupies a middle distance between domesticity and wilderness - what he calls 'the melancholy distance'. His fine elegies and love poems have in common a cool intonation and an argumentative persistence: the overlap is a telling one. McDonald's disenchanted vision makes the moments of intimacy and tenderness, when they come, all the more affecting. In addition, his profound literary intelligence thrives on metrical and stanzaic challenge, and ranges with relish from gnomic brevity to sustained meditation, narrative and memoir. These poems, which with their gently syncopated lines may seem understated, register the uneasiness and the excitement of 'the buzzing world': they are, in the poet's own words, 'back roads to everywhere'.
    Michael Longley
    'Hugely impressive... not just rich but endlessly varied and subtle... marvellous.'
    David Wheatley, Irish Times
    '€˜Peter McDonald's unsettling imagination occupies a middle distance between domesticity and wilderness... [his] disenchanted vision makes the moments of intimacy and tenderness, when they come, all the more affecting.'
    Michael Longley, CBE
     'McDonald's work 'is entirely in keeping with Milton's enjoinder that poetry be "simple, sensuous and passionate". His musicality is not just rich but endlessly varied and subtle. [...] It embodies the values of accuracy, conscience, and restraint but with no skimping of intensity or ferocity.'
    David Wheatley, Irish Times
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