The visceral quality of Edmunds’ work left me staggering. These are words built with street pianos, sirens, sex, bone and blood. We rattle through stations between fire skies and seas hurting themselves against rocks, always aware our train could be thrown off the tracks. Powerful, vivid and urgent, these are poems with teeth.
Here we have urgent, quick-moving,
immediate poems where surrealism is strikingly juxtaposed with the everyday,
humour with an underlying sense of menace, tenderness with despair. In this
collection Catherine Edmunds shows her mastery of narrative with its
tantalising hints of back stories and endings that startle with unexpected
shocks and twists. How to Win at Kings
Cross offers us a variety of voices
and styles in poems that are vibrant and witty. These are poems for today."
This is a startling collection from Catherine Edmunds. It crackles with high voltage poems, playful with form and language but full of passion, haunting qualities of memory and a fascination with those people and places that exist on the peripheries but here are given the poet’s unblinking and remarkably empathetic attention.
Ireland 1916, Peder O’Brien discovers the body of his mother
after the lynch-mob left her hanging from the punishment post. The lad
determines to extract justice in his own way.
Catholicism rules, but in the small town of Rossdore, amid
the wind-blasted peninsulas of Munster’s coast, Peder determines life
goes on. His is a verdant land where the mountains come down to the
Atlantic and every vista is Elysian. Peder and his fisherman mate Calum
are part and parcel of the community. Little Jo and big sister Mary Anne
are always busy, as are Hannah and Martha keeping their offspring in
line; but it is nurse Lizzie who wins the heart of the inhabitants and
is never lost for encouraging – if barbed – words.
Life in Portleán and Carravoe is hardly a picnic, yet
villagers are survivors and despite civil war, sectarian bigotry and
the ever-present weather, Munster people take courage from their
allotted portion and deal with it… hands on.
Rossdore struggled following the Great Famine but Father Jack is assigned to assist and when he tells Peder, “My parishioners have to patch me up every Sunday before I can conduct Matins,” he speaks with a contrite heart and a knowing smile.
The characters that inhabit The Driftwood Tree are staying
put in a land where intrepid stories and amicable endings are never
taken for granted. Celts, Vikings, wrecked mariners and the locals cling
to a tree that isn’t going anywhere. It has drifted far enough to fetch
up on the foreshore of Bantry Bay. It’s a grand place to call home.
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