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The Night Post: A New Selection (Salt Modern Poets) Hardcover – 25 Nov 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Salt Publishing (25 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907773010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907773013
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 876,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Ambitious and troubling, linking Ireland to the Black Sea and madness to history, grim as death and very funny, Black Moon insists that the worst is yet to come, which may in turn bring out the best in Sweeney. -- Sean O'Brien If one had to draw the co-ordinates for Matthew Sweeney they might intersect about the point where Flann O'Brien met Marin Sorescu, though without the latter's more intimate knowledge of bloodiness and tyranny. And there might be the ghost of a flute or pennywhistle there too, because it is impossible to read his poetry without hearing its apparently simple but sophisticated cadences as music. -- George Szirtes In Matthew Sweeney's freshly selected volume, The Night Post we get the sense from the opening pages of an edgier habit of speech: sharply knowing, well informed, brimming with opinions. "I have seen through all. / I am excess": Sweeney's early work, especially, is marked by a kind of inspired overkill, the speedtalk of a monologist made verbally and imaginatively uneasy by the world... With its landscapes of desolate isolations, his is often an evocatively noirish world of contemporary angst (the spooky title poem places a loaded Mercedes hearse - containing a body or "dozens of Armalites" - at a roadblock in the North). The persona of the poems is a troubled, self-aware consciousness taking in but never quite making sense of a contemporary world of fragments, a consciousness stretched and strained, but untouched by self-indulgence, self-pity or self-regard. -- Eamon Grennan The Irish Times We're lucky to have this book. It opens with a striking sequence from the 70s, "The Moonpoems", full of urban paranoia and gothic meanderings held in check by a sense of musicality and dark humour. Gradually, as the selection progresses through the 80s and 90s, Sweeney's style takes on a greater clarity and restraint. There are brooding vignettes of domestic life shimmering in the half-light, caught between the need for safety and a sense of claustrophobia. There are haunting parables, such as "The Stone Ship" or "The Queue", and children's poems such as "Night Boy" or "Johnjoe's Snowman" that simmer with disquiet. "Wild Garlic" is a triumph of an elegy. But the best writing is to be found in pieces such as "The Haunt of the Night-Owl" and its companion "Omelettes", both of which confront poverty and loss. Or take the wonderfully achieved simplicity of "The Hill", whose effortless, conversational tone explores the book's tensions with fine understatement - "but it's quiet now / in every room, and I go upstairs / to stare out at the sea instead, past / a flurry of starlings, heading somewhere." -- Charles Bainbridge The Guardian

About the Author

Matthew Sweeney was born in Donegal, Ireland in 1952. He moved to London in 1973 and studied at the Polytechnic of North London and the University of Freiburg. His poetry collections include Blue Shoes (1989), Cacti (1992), The Bridal Suite (1997), A Smell of Fish (2000), Selected Poems (2002), Sanctuary (2004) and Black Moon (2004). He won a Cholmondeley Award in 1987 and an Arts Council Writers Award in 1999.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Matthew Sweeney's The Night Post is allusive, comical, poignant and deftly-crafted. What strikes the reader first is the narrative drive of these poems - not a story-telling narrative, rather a series of metaphorical hooks on which hangs a wider, deeper perspective for our imaginations to ponder. Yet despite the many puzzling, riddle-like verses this is nonetheless a collection that is strangely accessible and approachable. Tenderness and poignancy shine through in `A Crow's Cremation' and `A Boy with a Rod' - the boy representing a lover who may, after he has hooked his conquest, let her go. `Neighbourly Sounds' shows us Sweeney's ribald humour and knockabout puns: `I notice dawn has come'. `The Dentist', meanwhile, is all-too-chilling. It is an example of how, away from the narratives, Sweeney is a poet of visionary images, with some verses made up of little else than a series of brilliantly-conceived metaphors. Arresting insights are a Sweeney speciality: the football whose leaking air will `whoosh to the centrespot / And wriggle back inside me.' No `slim volume' this. There are 171 pages of Sweeney's always engrossing work to get acquainted with - a pleasant enough prospect. Sweeney's The Night Post comes highly recommended from this reviewer. The seasoned reader of poetry and the reader who feels s/he really should read more verse will find in Sweeney richness and depth.
Rob Hawley
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Format: Hardcover
If you "don't like poetry" I would suggest you pick up this volume of Sweeney's poems and dive straight in. With a dry wit and an eye for detail, these poems will make you ponder on life's little details. The wind and rain pervade as liquid pools of moonlight glint through the pages, while insomnia grabs you and death stalks the streets. Sweeney gets to the heart of life, but rather than spoon-feeding narratives to the reader his style fills in small chunks of a larger story. Dreams hints at premonition and Hitchhiking paints a vivid picture, while Whatever is just plain dark. Throughout the volume we meet death and sex in their many guises, the infirmities of old age and the sharp eyes of youth. These poems aren't flowery sonnets from a make-believe world, they are dark, surreal and full of humour - albeit a very dark kind of humour.
In these days of instant gratification and "no time to read", I would suggest that this volume is slim enough to fit in your jacket pocket, or your bag, ready to be taken out and dipped into in those spare few moments. This isn't the poetry of the classroom, but poetry for now, poetry that makes you think.
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Format: Hardcover
This new selection by Matthew Sweeney from Salt encompasses 30 odd years of work from 1978 to the present day in 169 pages of poetry. Sweeney has a distinct voice and famous black wit. Yes there is a gentle whiff of Heaneyland here and there but these are minor hat tips from a poet who pulls influence from further afield. A poet heading out from Ireland to Germany, the Austrian Black Forest and London via "darkest Essex.". There are surreal touches. Dada touches: a perfectly preserved dead crow, a mysterious hole dug and filled without purpose as the poet observes, reggae listening Monks conversing in "rough Latin" in a pub. There are poems written "halfway down a Holborn lamppost", with Uboats, spectral horses, pig's head, cows eyes, ghosts, smugglers and snowmen. A two ton shark opportunistically brokered to the local Chinese restaurant and "the neighbourly sound / of a woman reaching orgasm, / crying a name over & over / as if trying to sell his function / to all the street's women". From the opening "Fog" , "where darkness has a strange sidekick" to the closing "Sleeping Sailor", "sleeping off a night of rum" I devoured this selection like a novel reading poem after poem in long sessions. I could not put it down as Sweeney shifted restlessly across border after border. The border where "Twenty miles to the south is the North". The border between sea and land. Countryside and city. Life and death. Sweeney navigates them all with a twinkle in his eye, his humour sharp, his language simple. Always effective and never less than tremendously readable.
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Format: Hardcover
Apparently a quite different beast from his 2002 Cape selected - an achievement in itself - this is rather more, um, building-based, at least to start with. If much of the Cape collection tended to the disagreeably morbid, this - when it works - is pleasingly sinister. After a slow start with some fragmentary prentice work (I'm thinking, offcuts?) the zingers start to come - the sinister New Town, the elliptical Lili Marlene and Gifts, the tender The Ideal Home. The recurrence of certain themes or motifs, as with a visual artist, may or may not be significant: corpses and hearses; bats, crows, crabs, owls, goats, monkeys; blue, booze, the blind, children, poison, snow; cacti, Germany, gold, guns, phones. I can picture the thesis taking shape now (The Iconography of -). I find the cacti very significant. Human interaction is limited in the extreme: 'Forgive me if my invite's bounced'; the pathologies of New Year Party - brother informs on brother - or The Servant, actually a daughter; the woman in Whatever with two deaths on her conscience 'all/because of sex, love or whatever'. As in the Cape selection, the gentle intrusion of rhyme (Calais) comes as welcome relief. The marvellously sinister The Queue, a Magnus Mills novel in embryo, is for me the stand-out track ('that book./It's one of my favourites: The Weight/of a Corpse is Varied'(!) - I like that 'varied') but I think we must await the Final Mix -- or maybe two, his lighter pieces (some of his children's work is included here; The Stone Ship may have been a child's poem whose Magnus Mills side took over) and - what else? - Sweeney Agonistes. Till then, how about 101 Narrative (or Character) Poems, please, Faber, to include Sweeney and John Gallas; Carol Ann would do us proud
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