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Drives (Cape Poetry) [Kindle Edition]

Leontia Flynn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Following on from the assured day-to-day poems of her first collection, Leontia Flynn's second, Drives, is a book of restless journeys - real and imaginary - interspersed with a series of sonnets on writers. Beginning in Belfast, where she lives, she visits a disjointed number of cities in Europe and the States - each one the occasion for an elliptical postcard home to herself.

Alongside these reports from abroad, portraits of dead writers flicker through the pages of this book - Baudelaire, Proust and Beckett; Bishop, Plath and Virginia Woolf - all revealing aspects of themselves, their frailties and their sicknesses, but also, we suspect, aspects of their ventriloquising author.

What these poems share is a furious refusal of received opinion, of a language recycled and redundant; they are raw exposed and angrily aware of distance - the distance between what one needs and what one receives, between love and what is lost. In particular, the lives here are haunted by the lost idyll of childhood, while poems about the poet's own mother and ageing father bring the collection to a close. With an alert ear for fracture and disarray and a tender eye for damage, Drives is a passionate enquiry into what shapes us as individuals.

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`Her appetites for life, books and travel make Drives an engaging read' -- Independent on Sunday

`Unhurried, reflective, melancholy'
-- Financial Times, Natalie Whittle


`Her appetites for life, books and travel make Drives an engaging read'

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5.0 out of 5 stars What's the feminine for virtuoso? 7 Sept. 2011
Crikey - can these Irish write!

Stunning use of rhyme and half-rhyme (Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Bishop - master classes in how to do it yet impossible to copy; Poem for New Year) in poems of utter seriousness and concision (I counted 2 poems longer than a sonnet, and one was a sestina) on apparently casual themes (biographical sketches, tourism - but you try writing ten lines on Paris - or Flynn's hometown Belfast). Accessible and quite devastating. You can take Tate Modern's 'thick crowds and..indifferent art' in two ways; Flynn sees today's barrenness unflinchingly ('I count 61 ingredients in my chicken sandwich') and, like all of us, takes her pleasures where she can - like Milos, whose 'crazed trilingual pass' in Bratislava 'didn't work'

Among such gold it's a case of picking out the clunkers - for my money the heavily underlined bathos of The Little Mermaid (though I'll know to avoid Copenhagen!); L.A. left her uninspired (perhaps a point in her favour - though as a poet isn't it her job to be inspired?) and N.Y. thoroughly disenchanted - but conversely this *does* inspire her, even the dumbing down of David Byrne. Try Brooklyn next time, is my advice. And I'd have avoided 'womb with a view' personally; I know it's a poor do if you can't be sentimental about a soon-to-be-born, particularly when it's your sister's(?), but as a way to end on a high note it's a bit of a cop-out
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