2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I loved this book of poems from the word "Go" - printed on the cover - and the fab poem addressing Poetry herself, placed on the flyleaf in lieu of a blurb: "One time I found you mooching round the back/of the loading dock at the meat factory"...
Just like Heaney before him, representing the earlier Northern Ireland generation, Laird aims to remind us that he knows all the classical conventions - as Heaney's "North" began with Antaeus, so Laird's volume starts with an Epithalamium. And it quickly becomes clear that the poet's been living in Rome, contemplating some of those vast legs left in the sand that populate the city: the Capitoline Museum provokes "The Mark", on the flaying of Marsyas, which quotes from Julian Barnes' memoir of his late wife whilst pondering pain in its many forms.
Laird's personal life is clearly much of his subject matter; it could be intensely tiresome for him to be so often reminded that he's related by marriage to a much-more bestselling writer, but even the tiny glimpses we might be getting of some kind of literary domestic life ("Talking In Kitchens") are so sweet that I found myself wishing I was talking in the kitchen with them, rather than resenting their happy-sounding existence. Much of the book seems interested in what place means, which also connects "North" and "Go Giants": at once intensely global and metropolitan, there are also these intimate domestic moments that you sense for Laird are completely key.
The thing I MOST love about this book is Laird's almost unbelievable ability to change tone. When you read North again AFTER this book, you go, "wow, Seamus, you really did go on and on and ON about bogs". Laird is one minute under a Spiderman duvet (he also, it's later revealed, had the matching curtains), the next discussing the immortal gods. he switches from discussing the gospels and how their interpretation affected Irish history, to talking about body shop flavoured lipbalm, it's completely fluid, and irresistible. AND he's so funny, as well as writing great poetry: it's such a plus.
There are tiny poems and really long ones, ones with tons of structure and some with hardly any, apparently: every one of them a completely distinct creation. I'm still mulling over the long poem, "Progress", about Northern Ireland, that finishes the book (24 pages long), and which definitely speaks in dialogue back to "North": lines like "our mild and violent land of the giant/ leylandii", aw, how can you not fall in love with this poet? So much to look forward to, I hope he writes poetry for the rest of my life.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2013
I like Laird - he supports negative growth, or did before fatherhood struck, like M5S now in Italy and the Greens back in the day - but a lot of these poems feature, presumably, his wife (Zadie Smith); will this prove his undoing? Give us that non-fiction book, Nick. Quick! Rain down fire