Celebrated as an unusually original poet - nervy, refreshing, deceptively simple - Leontia Flynn has quickly developed into a writer of assured technical complexity and a startling acuity of perception. In her third collection, Flynn examines and dismantles a fugitive life. The first sequence moves through a series of rooms, reflecting on aspects of the author's personal and family history. Using the idea of the haunted house or the house with a sealed-off room, and Gothic tropes of madness, doubles, revenants and religious brooding, the poems consider ideas of inheritance and legacy.
The second section comprises a magnificent long poem written in the months leading up to the banking crisis and presidential election of October 2008. Taking as its occasion a flat-clearing, it assumes a more public voice (inspired partly by Auden's 'Letter to Lord Byron'), and reflects on aspects of the rapid social and technological change of the last decade. An extraordinarily moving reflection on mutability and mortality prompted by the spring-cleaning of a life's detritus, 'Letter to Friends' evolves from a private reliquary to a public obsequy.
Its collapse back into private griefs, including the poet's father's decline into Alzheimer's disease, is pursued in the third section of the book. Here the theme of a tallying of private and public balance sheets, of different kinds of profit and loss, widens to include poems of motherhood and marriage, the possibilities of hope and repair.
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Leontia Flynn disentangles complicated feelings with extraordinary elan and maturity. She has a natural's feel for cadence and melody, and launches her singing line boldly and with a propulsion that energises her often elaborate syntax... Affectionate and truculent by turns, disenchanted but relishing the world around her, quick-witted and big-hearted, Leontia Flynn looks like the real thing -
Leontia Flynn really has something special...the achieved voice and assurance of a poet who knows exactly what she is talking about -
Flynn's is one of the most strikingly original and exciting poetic voices to have emerged from Northern Ireland since the extraordinary debut by Muldoon 35 years ago... She doesn't put a foot wrong on the page -
A witty, often poignant, auditing of the poet's life and times... A serious book, engaged with the world in which we live; and it is engaging too - thoughtful, prescient and eminently readable. Flynn's humour, her ability to entertain, and her astute powers of observation are wonderful gifts. She is one of the most original and accomplished poets of her generation - Guardian
Cape enlarges its excellent stable of poets with Belfast-born Leontia Flynn - Herald
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About the Author
Leontia Flynn was born in 1974 and lives in Belfast. Her first book, These Days, won the 2004 Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her second, Drives, was awarded the 2008 RooneyPrize for Irish Literature. She is currently post-doctoral research fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University.