Tuesday, 24 February 2009
PERPLEXED SKIN - STRONG AWARD SHORTLIST
I'm delighted that my friend Patrick (Pat) Cotter's poetry book Perplexed Skin has been shortlisted for the Strong Award. The book is sexy, witty and learn-ed. Here's what I said back in September when I launched it alongside three other Arlen House titles, at the Unitarian Church in Dublin:
"In his collection Perplexed Skin, Patrick Cotter writes frank and sensuous love poems, many of them embedded with a sudden and painful kick in the teeth: a girlfriend is stolen by bad feng shui; lovers lie with each other ‘like siblings’; and in ‘A Tigress is..’ the big cat ‘is a girl who licks up all your purring like milk, before leaving you’.
Pat’s poems are also ripe with a rueful self-criticism: the narrator compares himself unfavourably to sculptures in a museum; or laments his hair which stands in ‘shocked thin peaks of grey flames’. In the poem ‘The Poet Contemplates Book Cover Portraits’, the poet at 22 years old, and the poet at 42, have different ideas about the youthfulness of the now ubiquitous jacket photo. Expect to see a portrait of the poet as a banana on the back of Pat’s next book. You’ll know what I mean by that when you’ve read this one.
In a poem about the act of writing, the narrator observes that writing in a bar is more companionable than ‘a silent room’ because the noise there makes ‘the great trek through the word-veldt less lonesome’. Pat uses a rich Hiberno-English on his great trek, though his influences are doubtless European; he is unafraid of the local and the colloquial, the subversive and the funny, the searing truth and the wry observation."
The other shortlisted authors/books are:
Áine Moynihan: Canals of Memory (Doghouse)
Simon Ó Faoláin: Anam Mhadra (Coiscéim)
Ciaran Berry: The Sphere of Birds (Gallery Books)
Galway poet Mary O'Malley is the judge and I wish Pat the best of luck at the Strong Award at the Poetry Now Festival on the 29th of March and I'll be there shouting for him. Well, not literally shouting or I'd be kicked out, but you know what I mean. Pat's new collection Making Music is due for publication very soon and he blogs here.