Tightrope

11.9518.50

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He celebrates life at the centre and on the perimeter in an impressive range of poems, full of domestic detail, with a dangerous edge and the energetic eye (and ear) of an experienced traveller.
— John Mole, Times Literary Supplement

Tightrope is Aidan Rooney’s second collection, a richly intense exploration of loss and return. In its span of two worlds, the author’s native Ireland and the shores south of Boston where he makes his home, alternating notes of tension and repose evoke love and love-loss.

Two sequences anchor the collection and seek to salve heartbreak with restorations of beauty and peace: ‘May Altar’, a moving rumination on his mother’s death and ‘Among the Wrecks’ in which he delves into the history of a nineteenth-century Irish-American family. The book counters upheaval with astounding balancing acts. Its meditations – varied and various, playful, macaronic (and ablaze with already trademark verbal dexterity) reverberate in startling effects.

Aidan Rooney’s Tightrope is a substantial volume which explores both sides of the Atlantic — and of life — with the deftness of a true phrase-maker, who gives us “your heart’s high-strung desires”, “the flimsiest funicular” of a spider’s web. Sometimes refreshing his language with dialect – “their skirts awful summery/ for the night that was in it” — and sometimes punning, as when a drunken Accident “was all kept quiet” in a landscape of peaceful fields; sometimes borrowing Gaelic, or French, for tricky bi-lingual play; sometimes debunking classic French verse, his is a lively, but always literary, presence.

Most touching is May Altar, in memory of his mother. Here quiet understatement — his mother’s shade exhibits “a certain coolness in your manner/ as if to show some hurt you hadn’t been invited” — earns transcendency: “your assumption/ in a place you’ll find anointed/ with blue, perpetual blossom”.

— Fiona Sampson, Irish Times

Year Published: 2007
Details: 72pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 435 0
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 436 7

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