Karl Parkinsons speech launching E Lynskey's
'And Suddenly the Sun Again'
I first met Eamonn Lynskey at an open mic, "somewhere where you would expect to find poetry" as he says, and in listen to Eamonn read I most certainly did find poetry and in reading this collection 'And Suddenly The Sun' I've found some bloody good poetry and found out about poetry and the making of it.
The collection begins with the poem "The everything that ever" and the first line gives us what could be said to be some of the ingredients of poetry "Memory: a crate gets broken open by a song, a rhyme or by a slash of line or a splash of colour."
Memories of childhood are explored in part 1 of the book as Eamonn finds himself grown small remembering how his mother fell and grazed her knee after mass in St Michael church, or waiting on his father’s letter to arrive from Lancashire where he was working as a miner. Memories also of the dead are prominent and the honouring of them, how his Grandmother was like the Roman empire in how she accumulated all forms of divinity, Brother Kennedy asking a question then revelling the answer caught in flight. And death himself stalking Eamonn in "Shopping for myself" he stands there with irritating smile" or again in "When I'm falling, "Death sits grinning in the corner", but Eamonn is willing to take him on as "David did Goliath(But no sling),
and thinking on the inevitable he meets it with hope and grace in "When I am become again" "My stomach muscles decompose to rainbows, my sinews stretch to stellar space, my eyelash frets an insect wing."
I've heard people describe Eamonn as a 'Political' poet and others talk of his wit and humour in his poems and both can be found here. The political poems are mostly contained in part 2 of the book- but for me to say they are political is not enough
they have another quality and as such it is a quality of the man that is his humanness, his heart. In his opposition to the cruelties and atrocity's of war- The army's use of the term 'collateral damage for the deaths of children mentioned on the poem "OM" .
In "I'm sorry for the grunts get killed" He shows us the stark reality's of the war in Iraq
"Soldiers scrambling to collect the intestines and bladder of the ground and push it back inside their fallen colleague" stating the futility of the word sorry in such circumstances. Again in "Come all ye trueborn Irishmen" the empty apologies for all the hurt and suffering caused and the feeling "Empty as the barrel of the gun that fired the bullet, shattered as the skull" of a 17 year old boy murdered by paramilitaries.
He also express's the ugliness and stupidity of the propaganda
In "when Mom goes to war" the title of a time magazine cover story in 2003
Were "Mary must lay down her son and exchange her blue and white for camouflage,
moms with guns and smiles and victory signs above the bodies of Iraqi prisoners.
In his visits to museums like the Hiroshima peace museum or the museum of occupation in Riga, he asks
"What do they teach us, these museums? How can they reach us? Where they slept twenty to a shelf made wide enough for ten, you see, you touch. You try to comprehend their misery, you- who never suffered anything like this.”
We can find in this collection an enormous amount of life across all walks: soldiers, poets, housewife's, teachers and elegant Buddhist monks on bicycles, across many
places: pubs, market stalls, schools, down mines, in many countries: Ireland, Japan,
Italy, Latvia, Argentina, Chile, Poland and more, and the range of poetry is vast and varied, whimsical, sarcastic, sorrowful, reflective, revelatory, profound.
And though it's a cliché "He makes the personal universal"
In reading "It's that man again" I was pleased to find I was not the only one who noticed the never ending amount of Hitler related programmes on TV, particularly on the history channel or should that be the Hitler channel.
In part 3 the poet and poetry becomes the subject:
At "The bookstalls at stazione termini Rome" there are
"Such endless moulding stacks of sad reminders of that literary past where poets thought that poetry could save the world, then suffered two world wars that proved them wrong".
In the wonderful poem "So where do you expect to find poetry?", the sometime pretensions of the poet and his apparent struggle to find the words are giving
"Words that don't immediately make sense and lines that arbitrarily end,
and never make the margins",
"Poor bedraggled creatures of the broken line, reach out to you from underneath
enormous smothering mounds of personal baggage, crying to be heard."
In the final two parts of this collection we are treated to liturgies, sobs, sighs,
poems of healing, dedication, nature and light, poems on paintings, like "The martyrdom of St Andrew" and the picture that Eamonn paints of a man who contained that heart of which I spoke of earlier in his "Homage to Maximillion Kolbe" is done deftly and beautifully "The moment that you offered them your life for his what must have been their silence?" and ending with the line "So loved his neighbour better than himself" showing that humanness, maximillions and Eamonn's.
In reading this collection I believe I have learned something new about the world and from the perspective of a poet about poetry itself and I think anyone who reads it will learn too. As the poet Chris Daybell said to Eamonn "Only genius can take brutality and turn it into art" well Eamonn has done that here, but also he has captured the seemingly ordinary and made it seem extraordinary, the sacred in the everyday things and that to takes genius- As in the last verse of the last poem in the book
"Then the sudden heavy smell of wet cement,
brown outdoor-chairs-on-sale now suddenly browner,
and the sudden pools, the gutters suddenly alive and then
the sudden silence when the sabres stop
and everyone is breathless taking in what he can do,
without a by your leave,
and suddenly the sun again."
Karl Parkinson 2010