Sometimes, the right book just pops up at the right time and Eilean Ni Chuilleanain’s new Gallery Press book – a Poetry Book Society Recommendation – The Sun Fish is such a book for the dreadful winter we are in the grip of. The title poem refers to a Basking Shark, called, as Gaeilge, An Liamhan Greine. You can feel the summer radiate as the shark does and dawdles where warmer streams collide.
Some of the work has an academic feel with references to puzzle and blur the impact but the second poem in is – A Bridge Between Two Counties. The opening verse is:
“The long bridge
Stretched between two counties
So they could never agree
How it should be kept.”
Ni Chuilleanain explores the impact of words, of language through a process of history, going in doors or entrances of stories or looking out or back through windows at landscapes only visible in memory.
A poem like Ballinascarthy tells of a graveyard search for ancestors, but it reminded me of driving around West Cork, to visit places relevant to Michael Collins, the day I went to see Bryan Flynn’s powerful Michael Collins in Cork Opera House. Or visits to Sean Dunne’s grave in the Cork Gaeltacht.
As if the mood were not real enough, there are poems like The Flood, The Water, The Cold but the heart warms to the various journeys in this book of poems and journeys into the place of words, and the value of words in our everyday landscape, streetscape.