Liffey Swim Irish Times Review

Delighted to see my poetry book’s first review in last weekend’s Irish Times. It’s great to be reviewed in such good company too, along with new collections by Kerry Hardie, Gerald Dawe, Nessa O’Mahony and Theo Dorgan. Here’s my mention:

Although Jessica Traynor’s first collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus, €11.50), is not grounded in elegy, one of its successes is the surreal reversal of (the bravely titled) The Dead, whose deathbed scene is clamorous with ghosts: “I didn’t want to leave her with them, / so I stayed and they promised to behave – / though they were already into the whiskey. / In the small hours she called for them / and, when her life escaped her, // it shook out its legs like a newborn foal.”

The book shows her care with form as she negotiates public and private spaces: eBay, street scenes, the Liffey swim of its title, an archaeological dig. Others imagine an animal world clearly, as when Egrets in the Tolka “becomes an aerial show // by a bird that looks through me, / seeking only the shadows / of slow-moving fish.”

You can read the full round up of reviews here

I’m looking forward to doing some readings next week in Dublin and London, more updates to follow soon.

42nd Hennessy XO Literary Awards 2013

So, on Tuesday night I won the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award.

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Myself, Ruth Quinlan and John O’Donnell with our prizes

It’s very difficult to write about these (rare) instances of success without sounding smug – but I think it’s also important to mark the occasion, so please excuse any gloating and here goes:

I really didn’t expect to win anything this year. I had attended the awards in 2011 when the lovely Afric McGlinchy won and on that particular evening I was in knots, terrified and excited and hoping against tiny hope that I might win something. I was a little disappointed when I didn’t, but not surprised and absolutely delighted for Afric, whose poetry is musical, intelligent and rich with memorable imagery. This year, I approached the event feeling a little older and wiser, simply ready to enjoy the fact that I was invited to a cocktail party in the French Ambassador’s residence (on a Tuesday, no less!)

The other nominated poets were all extremely talented – Helena Nolan, Jane Clarke, Michael Ray, Jessamine O’Connor and Patrick Toland and I had absolutely no inkling that I might be in with a chance to win something. Hearing my name read out for the Emerging Poet category almost knocked me over and when I was called up to accept the overall prize I thought they’d have to take me out of the building on a stretcher. I managed to hold it together for my (completely unprepared) speech, but I’m pretty sure the Perspex lectern betrayed how badly my legs were shaking. This makes it sound like an ordeal – it wasn’t – it was fantastic (which, co-incidentally, was the only superlative I could come up with in the interviews afterwards. It was fantastic fantastic fantastic. Poetry howareya.)

Me and Declan working the red carpet.

I’d like to mention at this point that the work of the other category winners was really excellent. John O’Donnell’s story
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