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Facing the Public

Martina Evans

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Paperback
ISBN: 978 0 856464 12 6
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Published: October 2009
216 x 138 x 8 mm
64 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Desperate Men

    Christmas Day and Good Friday
    were the only days that the pub closed.
    And yet they came –
    trembling strangers, under hats and caps,
    lapels turned up against the slanting wind
    or hiding a dog collar.
    They were desperate.
    We knew men like them for 363 days of the year
    apologetic, obsequious and persistent,
    dark ravens
    tap tap tapping at our front door.
    Isn’t it a fright? everyone whispered
    over the Brussels sprouts, the one day in the year.
    Wouldn’t you think they would stock up or their wives could ...?
    I pondered but sshhh in the name of God my mother
    looked at me as if I was planning my future.
    You’ll draw them in on top of us,
    she passed out slices of turkey on tip-toe
    and we avoided the noise of cutlery on china
    chewing tensely until we heard the sound
    of footsteps on gravel again
    the wind-up growl of an old Escort or Cortina starting up,
    driving away.
     

    The opening poems of the Cork-born writer’s fourth collection draw on stories from her Irish childhood, tales of the impact of the Black and Tans on her family’s locality in the 1920s. The heady brew of Irish politics and religion is close to the surface throughout. The title poem captures conversational drama in her most engaging style, familiar to audiences at her highly successful readings:

    My mother never asked like a normal person, it was
    I’m asking you for the last time, I’m imploring you
    not to go up that road again late for Mass

     

    This book will be available again soon

     

    Martina Evans grew up in County Cork and trained in Dublin as a radiographer before moving to London in 1988. She is the author of eleven books poetry and prose. She has won several awards including the Premio Ciampi International Prize for Poetry in 2011. Burnfort, Las Vegas (Anvil Press, 2014) ... read more
    Awards won by Martina Evans Short-listed, 2019 Irish Times Poetry Now Award (Now We Can Talk Openly About Men) Short-listed, 2019 The Pigott Poetry Award (Now We Can Talk Openly About Men) Short-listed, 2019 The Roehampton Poetry Prize (Now We Can Talk Openly About Men) Short-listed, 2015 Irish Times Poetry Now Award (Burnfort, Las Vegas) Winner, 2011 Premio Ciampi Internazionale di Poesia (Ciampi International Poetry Prize) (Facing the Public)
     'A deceptively casual and enjoyable collection.'
    Irish Times
    Praise for Martina Evans 'Terrifying tales of peace'

    Kate Clanchy, The Guardian

    'Evans's decision to occupy and represent these women in the midst of a period in Irish history which is at once surrounded by silence and overexposed in the long shadow it has cast, leaves us with a work which is compelling, subtle, compassionate and evocative.'

    Rosie Lavan, Poetry Ireland Review 

    'A sharply idiomatic reflection of the Irish revolution and Civil War... it is unputdownable'.
    Roy Foster, TLS Books of the Year 2018
     'Totally captivating.'
    Susan Jane Sims, Artemis Poetry
      '...a rich poetic contribution to our forthcoming interrogation of the War of independence, two intense and riveting dramatic monologues by women affected by the burning of Mallow in 1920, and the malaise of the new state in 1924.'
    Catriona Crowe, The Irish Times Best Books of 2018
        'Evans manages in this collection, like a great filmmaker or novelist, to gift the audience (and I use the word "audience" deliberately) with immersion into a world so real and complete we have to reluctantly drag ourselves back to our fictional lives.'
    Anne Tannam, The Dublin Review of Books

     'Full of insight and humour...Evan's ability to choose just the right word is unerring.'
    Suzanne O'Sullivan, The Observer
    'I loved everything about this book'
    Kate Kellaway, The Observer
     'Evans's ear for speech suits the monologue, and the monologues - talky, jumpy, Gothic - are intensely atmospheric, claustrophobic pieces... Here, and throughout, Evans catches the nightmarish powerlessness of living close to historical changes.'
    John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
     'Her ability to replicate on the page colloquial Irish rhythms and phrasing has been commented on before, and it draws the reader in from the beginning... Each poem is, in a sense, akin to a chapter of a novel, and there is narrative drive both within the poems and between them, but as they are poems, i.e. stand-alone entities and in this sense equally analogous to paintings, they serve as much as windows onto moments, thoughts, memories and feelings as narrative blocks.'
    Chris Edgoose, Wood Bee Poet

      'Evans' verse is tightly packed with images, but loose enough in its metre to read naturally. One can take the book at a running pace and enjoy a story with deep emotional beats, or slow the pace and reflect on the careful choice of wording.'
    Joe Darlington, Manchester Review of Books
      The admired vernacular brilliance of Martina Evans's poetry is applied here to her most ambitious work to date, bringing to vivid life one of the most terrible periods of Irish history from the Troubles around 1920 to the Civil War, as witnessed and experienced by two generations of women ... No other poet currently writing in Britain and Ireland can rival Evans's ability to represent the impact of the political on the personal without easy histrionics. This is a remarkable document, a major work.
    Bernard O'Donoghue
     'a subtle, challenging writer with a wonderfully destructive approach to the pieties she describes.'
    John McAuliffe, Irish Times
      'Evan's great skill is in knowing how much to put into a poem. She has a talent for selecting only the most resonant memories, for not over-icing the cake of sentiment. [...] Above all, Evans puts the right words in the right order, a dictum whose simple phrasing embodies its demands.'
    Michael Duggan, PN Review
    'These look like easy, anecdotal poems but they bite.'
    Alan Brownjohn, Sunday Times
    'Martina Evans [is] brazenly humorous [...] with her dizzyingly wacky free-verse tale-telling.'
    The Tablet
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