These Days is the debut collection of poems
by 29 year old Northern Irish poet Leontia Flynn -who this week was named as one of the twenty 'Next Generation
Like many of the new poets her style is light and conversational
which gives the poems a deceptively simple feel.
Her subjects range from memories of childhood, love, her mother and
father, student life and urban life.
Some of the poems seem a little too clever and too slight. For
example, in the opening poem Naming It she compares a moment
of clarity to the difference between an avocado and an aubergine in
her friend's 'well-stocked' fridge (?). Then in Two Crossings
- a poem about an Irish Sea crossing she is fluent but the ending is remarkably
inconclusive: 'we are half asleep with this rocking as the boat approaches the harbour and home.'
When her themes are stronger, however, she seems
more successful. The two poems about her father Eeps (about his
wiring skills) and Mangles are assured - as is the stately
and solemn contemplation of time passing These Days and Pet Deaths about the
loss of her terrier.
However, perhaps the finest poem in the collection is
Without Me (no 5). (For some strange reason there are five poems
in the collection entitled
Without Me ??) In this she turns a childhood memory of playing
frisbee with the 'plastic lid of an old rat poison bin' into a
transcendent, Heaney-esque piece which this time delivers a powerful
ending: ' And I would have sworn that our throw and catch had
such momentum/ that its rhythm might survive, somehow, without me.'
Throughout the collection there are also echoes
of Philip Larkin. In The Second Mrs De Winter
she contemplates the 'falafel-cooking' previous occupant of her
flat which is reminiscent of Mr Bleaney. There is even a nod to Christopher Marlowe in
Come Live With Me.
Although Flynn uses very little rhyme and few traditional stanzas,
it's nice to see her sneak in an accomplished sestina (26)
towards the end of the collection.
Surefooted, if a little inconsequential, Leontia Flynn is certainly one to
keep an eye on for the future.