Diaspora speak with new rhythms and perspective

New collections of poetry from Afric McGlinchey and Paul Casey.

The Lucky Star of Hidden Things

Afric McGlinchey

Salmon Poetry €12

Home More or Less

Paul Casey

Salmon Poetry €12

Here are two new collections by poets of the Irish diaspora, two writers of Irish parentage who returned to Ireland with a different story to tell.

Both are out of Africa, with McGlinchey following the star of Sadalachbia, the harbinger of an African spring, and Casey homeward-bound with Afrikaans as well as Munster Irish in his vocabulary. Their presence is enriching and melodic: they carry rhythms of affection that is continental in its humanity, inclusive, and multi-cultural:

’The board flicks names: Brazzaville,Lilongwe, Kinshasa, Babouti ...Our destinations will land usin the ice-chill, eraseall memory of this temperature,the slow, languorous swayof sun people.’

McGlinchey was elaborately educated at Rhodes University and Cape Town, but her African nature is aural and sensory. Her poems are an anthology of sensations, collected and stored in the mind as she does her athletic free-running across page after page of this, her first collection.

She may editorialise on Harare life, remain discreet about the dampness of Cork, but, on the evidence of this book, she’s cracked more egg shells than most poets, and, what’s more, she’s seen

’a girl/in south Sudan walk a thousand miles with only insects/ for food, then deliver an infant in the desert.

Quite simply, this is a beautiful collection from a supremely gracious new voice in our midst.

Sensuous too, Paul Casey learned his Afrikaans courtesy of the SADF: ‘Haai pasop roef! He responds

‘Like sub-Saharan thorns translation skills mutate and still their flowers must dilate.

He coped with the expected harshness of South Africa, and ended up teaching scriptwriting at Nelson Mandela University. Mindful of the Zulu proverb that poetry sits still while hunger is a wanderer, he hungered after another language, and as if to prove that the hunger of wandering is settled, he has written a poem for Alan Titley:

Cathain a bheith tú ag teach ar ais?tá said ag monabharcad é sin i ríocht na ndaoine?tá fhios again...’

Casey is more political than McGlinchey, and therefore more disturbed culturally. His naming of names or pointing at milestones, from Kavanagh’s bench to the reworking of a Douglas Hyde translation, looks like part of a sophisticated effort to find a landing-place with enough flat grass to allow a descent.

With his mixture of humour, robust language and neurasthenic wandering, he is a serious talent; a man to demand attention. He might be addressing us all with these words:

‘There you are little sisteran Irish mist about your cheek.

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