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The Windows of Graceland

New and Selected Poems

Martina Evans

The Windows of Graceland
RRP: GBP 10.39
Available
eBook (EPUB)
ISBN: 978 1 784102 77 7
Categories: 21st Century, Irish, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 2016
136 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), Paperback
Digital access available through Exact Editions
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • 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.

    from Burnfort, Las Vegas

    The Windows of Graceland gathers the cream of the crop from Martina Evans’s five previous collections of poetry, brought up to date by a selection of new and unpublished work. The earliest poems date back to 1998 and Evans’s expatriation from Ireland. A complex nostalgia for her Catholic childhood establishes a central and enduring thread in the writing, the bloody shadow of sectarian conflict commingling with a child’s pastoral of pleated mustard kilts and corduroy paisley dresses, the ‘sighing country roads’, the ‘blue Burnfort evening’. The later poems, written from London, develop a fascination with Americana as the poet’s own cultural displacement takes on substitute forms, the Irish traveller Elvis O’Donnell finding his unlikely double in that other Elvis, of Graceland. Early poems on childhood come full-circle across the selection’s twenty-five year span in more recent poems on motherhood. When the poet’s teenage daughter returns home missing a shoe, ‘I don’t share her grief. / I feel relief / as if the shoe is a coin / paid to the wild / for her safe return.’ From story-teller to free-verse fili, memoirist to satirist, daughter to mother, The Windows of Graceland distils Evans’s full poetic range and power.

    for All Alcoholics Are Charmers 
    ‘Evans’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 

    for Can Dentists Be Trusted?
    ‘These look like easy, anecdotal poems but they bite.’ 
    Alan Brownjohn, Sunday Times

    for Facing the Public
    ‘A deceptively casual and enjoyable collection.’ 
    Irish Times

    for Burnfort, Las Vegas
    ‘Martina Evans [is] brazenly humorous […] with her dizzyingly wacky free-verse tale-telling.’ 
    The Tablet
    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 subtle, challenging writer with a wonderfully destructive approach to the pieties she describes.'
    John McAuliffe, 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
      '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
    'Martina Evans [is] brazenly humorous [...] with her dizzyingly wacky free-verse tale-telling.'
    The Tablet
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