June 27th sees the publication of two new poetry collections from The Gallery Press — Double Negative by Vona Groarke and The Wedding Breakfast by Frank McGuinness.
The double negative amounts to a positive. In this, her seventh collection, Vona Groarke considers the subject of ageing, fearlessly exploring its culverts and cul-de-sacs while also checking this earnestness with sharp wit and trademark style. Here candour is mediated by humour. These are sensual and sensitive poems, written in language asked to be beautiful, wry and true about topics usually either ignored or obscured with greyness and cliché. Hailed by The Irish Times as ‘a poet of great self-awareness and meticulous craft’, Vona Groarke’s Selected Poems was praised as a ‘collection of almost sublime purity’ (Dublin Review of Books). Double Negative breaks new ground in subject and approach. It is a daring and distinguished work from one of Ireland’s leading poets.
The Wedding Breakfast
In Frank McGuinness’s sixth collection imagination and recollection combine to register historical and political moments (‘Burnfoot’, ‘The Battle of Clontibret’, and ‘The Protestant Boys’), a son haunted by his father and the author’s marriage in the Cardiac Unit of a Belfast hospital. Poems prompted by Bruegel the Elder and Géricault join versions of Lorca and Villon. Infused with an Oriental sensibility the book embraces far-flung places — Machu Picchu, the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the bus to Fatima. Frank McGuinness’s finest collection, The Wedding Breakfast, concludes with a stunning elegy (‘Who Could Survive the Atlantic Ocean?’) for Danny Sheehy.