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Burnfort, Las Vegas

Martina Evans

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This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
Paperback
ISBN: 978 0 856464 57 7
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Published: October 2014
216 x 138 x 10 mm
64 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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    Burnfort, Las Vegas

    for Martin Westwood

    We move the Sacred Heart lamp
    closer to Elvis’s face now in the month
    of June. I think that those
    billboards of Vegas
    could be the Major cigarette sign
    or the Double Diamond Works Wonders
    in the lounge window round ’75
    or the BP pump shining
    in the blue Burnfort evening,
    the wood pigeons cooing
    as the men come down
    from the mountain and fill their vans
    with petrol – a violet cloud
    with a tantalizing smell and someone
    says Burnfort is like New York
    to those mountainy men the way
    it is all built up with a school
    and a church and a post office and us
    city slickers running the pub,
    shop and petrol pumps
    and I believe it is true,
    that we are like that to them –
    there were stranger things then
    to believe in, only now I think
    it was more like Vegas, all those
    signs, the games of forty-five
    and my Elvis tape playing.
    A few months ago
    the novelty mug frightened us all
    by spontaneously bursting
    into Viva Las Vegas and I took that
    as a sign, did what any
    Catholic would do – put up a shrine.

     

    Gazebo

    Gazebo was the word my mother
    used to describe a mad exhibitionist
    or a queer hawk. For example,
    so-and-so was going around like a
    right gazebo
    . Naturally I imagined
    a gazebo had legs and travelled, so
    I was surprised to see my first one
    on an English village green, going
    nowhere, the wedding couple
    toasting each other under its rippling
    blue and white canopy as cricket bats
    smacked slowly in the heat. My mother
    grew up near landed gentry
    and the gazebos hidden in their walled gardens
    must have entered her language
    like escaped seeds,
    growing into wild tramps
    that straggled along the Rathkeale road,
    on strange, overblown feet.
     

    Martina Evans’s fifth collection moves from the impact of American culture and rock’n’roll in the 1960s on her home town, a small Catholic community in rural Ireland, to life in contemporary London. Her poems spring from memories, anecdotes of local characters, children’s books, shoes and cats; finally they revisit her Burnfort schooldays in sharp, truthful and often funny poems. Her poems will appeal to all who enjoy her unique blend of poetry and storytelling, her astute mimicry of conversational styles and her gift for offbeat humour.
     

    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)
    'Martina Evans [is] brazenly humorous [...] with her dizzyingly wacky free-verse tale-telling.'
    The Tablet
    Praise for Martina Evans '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
     'A deceptively casual and enjoyable collection.'
    Irish Times
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