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The House of Clay

Peter McDonald

The House of Clay by Peter McDonald
Categories: 21st Century, Irish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (64 pages)
(Pub. Jan 2007)
Out of Stock
  • Description
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • The House of Clay is Peter McDonald's fourth book of poems, containing lyrics which combine intense resonance of narrative and imagery with powerful formal concentration. Autobiographical material, founded on a childhood in Belfast during the troubled 1970s, is developed and transformed by the book's other strands: poems on the contemporary Middle East, and poems drawing on Greek and Latin sources (including translations of Pindar and Virgil) build together into a moving and complex meditation on personal and historical loss.

    McDonald is one of the most widely-known (and most controversial) critics of modern British and Irish poetry; his poetry builds into itself the critical intelligence and anger of that context, along with the visionary intensity of an original, and impassioned imagination. The House of Clay creates a new and uncompromising kind of Irish poetry, in which the ancient and the modern, the pagan and the Northern Irish Protestant, find a piercingly clear register

    San Domenico 9
    The hand 11
    As seen 13
    Cetacea 15
    Clearout 17
    The gnat 19
    Literal 21
    War diary 22
    The moth 23
    The other world 24
    Strongman 25
    Spoils 27
    The overcoat 28
    A schoolboy 30
    Windows 31
    Three rivers 32
    The pattern 35
    Syrian 37
    The fob-watch 38
    Against the fear of death 40
    Mar Sarkis 41
    In heaven 42
    Inventory 44
    The anniversary 45
    Forecast 46
    Flex 47
    The walk 48
    Quis separabit 49
    Late morning 50
    The pieces 51
    The street called Straight 56
    Arithmetic 57
    Vigilantes 58
    Ode 59
    44A 60
    The bees 62

    Coda 66

    Notes 69
    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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