Poetry round-up: Nidhi Zak / Aria Eipe is an assured and compassionate new voice

Plus collections from Liz Quirke, Jason Allen-Paisant and insight into Seamus Heaney

One feels, reading Nidhi Zakaria Eipe’s collection, a shift in poetry, a cracking open of new possibilities

One feels, reading Nidhi Zakaria Eipe’s collection, a shift in poetry, a cracking open of new possibilities

“Dad, I’ve been talking to the dead,/ but no word yet. In my nightly haunting, I gut myself like a fish/ to lay it all out before you. Your wife is as she will be./ There’s a hole though, she’s shot through spine to sternum// from lack of you.” These lines, from Liz Quirke’s Love Letter to my Father, one of the final poems in her brilliant and deeply-moving new collection, How We Arrive in Winter (Salmon, €12), have both an unusual and bodily effect, combining straight-spoken vulnerability with a raw, jugular assault.

The familiar revelation of grief – of being undone, unmade, and having to remake oneself around an absence – is handled by Quirke through a distinctive attention to the body, often in terms of its organs. One of the collection’s strongest poems, The Promise of Sweetbread, suggests that the function of elegy is to find hope in rebuilding, to learn how to incorporate loss (in both the literal sense of “to make bodily” and the metaphorical sense of “to integrate”), to recalibrate memory and time, and to find a place for emotions which have lost their physical harbour.

The Irish Times
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