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Now We Can Talk Openly About Men
RRP: GBP 7.99
ISBN: 978 1 784105 79 2
Categories: 21st Century, Irish, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 2018
88 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (Kindle), Audiobook (Audible)
Shortlisted for the 2019 Irish Times Poetry Now Award
Shortlisted for the 2019 Pigott Poetry Award
Shortlisted for the 2019 Roehampton Poetry Prize
Featured in the TLS & Irish Times Books of the Year 2018
Martina Evans’s Now We Can Talk Openly about Men is a pair of dramatic monologues, snapshots of the lives of two women in 1920s Ireland. The first, Kitty Donovan, is a dressmaker in the time of the Irish War of Independence. The second, Babe Cronin, is set in 1924, shortly after the Irish Civil War. Kitty is a dressmaker with a taste for laudanum. Babe is a stenographer who has fallen in love with a young revolutionary. Through their separate, overlapping stories, Evans colours an era and a culture seldom voiced in verse.
Set back some years from their stories, both women find a strand of humour in what took place, even as they recall the passion, vertigo and terror of those times. A dream-like compulsion in their voices adds a sense of retrospective inevitability. The use of intense, almost psychedelic colour in the first half of the book opposes the flattened, monochrome language of the second half. This is a work of vivid contrasts, of age and youth, women and men, the Irish and the English: complementary stories of balance, imbalance, and transition.
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)
'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
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 Praise for Martina Evans '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 'Martina Evans [is] brazenly humorous [...] with her dizzyingly wacky free-verse tale-telling.'
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