Vona Groarke’s fifth collection slips between the ‘away’ of America or England, and the West of Ireland or the remembered ‘inland fields’ of home. The poems offer gorgeous bits and pieces of the observed world: the sound a scissors makes; a drop of rain on a blouse; the flare-up of a mobile phone . . . Each pinpoints more expansive concerns where the intensely noticed detail blooms in significance.
True to the Times Literary Supplement‘s note of her ‘precise observation and deftly interwoven threads of thought’, this book culminates in a title sequence that glimpses a Connemara landscape, attending to its wildflowers and rituals, its weather and tides, concluding that ‘it is all a kind / of love song, really’.
Love songs and poems of desire, poems of adherence and of doubt, Spindrift affirms the achievement of a poet identified by Poetry Ireland Review as ‘Among the best Irish poets writing today’.
. . . The poems in Spindrift serve as a reminder that in the strongest poetry there’s always the sound of someone confronting with courage and craft the outer and inner worlds of hazardous matter. What these poems possess are seriousness of purpose, clarity of intelligence, exactitudes of feeling and, most of all, a quiet mastery of language in its instrumental work as sound and cadence, as image, as metaphor, as just plain statement.
Such qualities confirm Groarke’s position as a leading figure among the most accomplished poets of her (very talented) generation. And while in earlier volumes the presence of certain useful influences (among them those of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Medbh McGuckian) could be detected, in this, her strongest collection so far, she comes clear in a complex, satisfying, distinctive voice that is no one’s but her own.
“I begin to learn a simple thing,” she says in one poem, and she’s right. But the journey to that “simple thing” is arduous, as all worthwhile art discovers, and is achieved by far from simple means. Living between the active energy of “spin”, and the patient, watchful openness of “drift”, the poems of Spindrift let us know in their own way what lyric consciousness and lyric poem really mean.
— Eamon Grennan, The Irish Times
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Groarke is superb at sidestepping or skirting the subject, the better to wrong-foot the reader and set us right down, surprised, in the middle of things . . . Spindrift is suffused with a candour, delicacy and intelligence that should win her many new readers.
— from the Poetry Book Society citation
Year Published: 2009
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 476 3
ISBN ebook: 978 1 85235 580 7