Clearly enraptured with language and sound . . . Jamison is an impressive new talent and Happy Hour reveals him as a multi-faceted poet with a bold and unique voice.’
— Madeleine Callaghan, Irish Literary Supplement
Ben Wilkinson, in the TLS, praised the ‘energetic, demotic, wistful yet upbeat tones of Andrew Jamison’s entertaining, enjoyable first collection’. Kathleen McCracken, in The Yellow Nib, found in it a poetry that ‘boasts formal dexterity and an engagingly idiosyncratic way of looking at the world’.
Andrew Jamison’s impressive new collection shows a deepening of style and substance. It ranges from recollections of a sojourn in Paris (‘Souvenir’), resorts in his native County Down and various sports stadia to contemplation of ‘Becoming a Box-Set Detective’. As likely to invoke R.E.M. and ‘Joy Division at the Haçienda’ as Georges Bertrand and an anonymous Irish poet, it teases ideas in lavish lyrics until
all I think of is coastal road,
all a self is, all a county is, where they end.
The title of Andrew Jamison’s second collection, Stay (Gallery, €11.95 pb; €18.50 hb), acts as a way of describing his residence abroad, in England, as a “stay” rather than anything more permanent. Homesick and more melancholy than in Happy Hour (2012), Jamison’s new poems often balance a solitary, adult present moment against a more social, culturally communal other world.
The stripped-down present becomes a trigger for memory, even if the memories of Ravenhill (Spectator), Windsor Park (Friendly) or the coast (Ardglass Marina) are not exactly shiningly happy: “how much we’ll pay / for what: scope, a lookout, a sense of elevation, / summer G and Ts on the balcony, / a share in the ocean’s profundity? / The seagulls pick at flotsam in the car park.”
The same tone – melancholy, jaded – haunts his Paris sequence Souvenir(which ends by repeating, “That feeling that you’ve left something behind.”) and poems which travel, imaginatively, to the fiction of Cormac McCarthy and Steinbeck, or Chekhov’s romantic life. More far-fetched are a poem about Joy Division playing Factory (a venue opened after the death of Ian Curtis and the disbanding of Joy Division) and a sequence, The Lost Songs of Georges Bertrand.
In that sequence, a snarkier persona emerges albeit lines like “I hear the word and I think of home” confirm the suspicion that Bertrand is not so much another poet but an alias. The sequence stretches Jamison tonally, and features one of the collection’s stand-out poems: “Three summers ago my father disappeared,” it begins, before situating this absence precisely and mysteriously:
All I can picture is the half carafe
of Côte du Rhone, the Reblochon,
the whole tomato, sliced, and of course
the half baguette, unbroken, the clock
advancing, my mother beginning
to shoo the flies away.
— John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN PBK: 978 1 91133 703 4
ISBN HBK: 978 1 91133 704 1