|Publisher:||Faber Faber Inc|
These poems mix ancient wisdom of signs and wonders with the open-ended science of the quantum age. Here, the poet looks at childhood memories of rural Ireland and of irretrievable loss nuanced with the restorative intimation that time’s arrow is not, perhaps, relentlessly linear.
Maurice Riordan’s second volume of poetry Floods, short-listed for the Whitbread, has proven even more successful than his first collection, A Word from the Loki, which attained high praise and significant attention. And for good reason; this is lucid, clever, unsentimental, discreetly lyrical poetry. Riordan’s themes are the themes of any poet: love, loss, death, memory, childhood, love again. However, in his capable hands these hardy perennials become greenhouse blooms, without ever losing their earthy, grounded quality. Some, like the funny/touching “Caroline Songs” (“When you wear the Russian felt, I think I see the touch of guilt”) are erotic going on explicit; others, like “Caisson” (“at your undressing, I would be, plunged in a Runic chemistry”) are erotic going on scientific. Still others—some of the most successful—hearken back to Riordan’s Irish upbringing, and a much-loved if given-to-frankness mother, like these lines from Southpaw: “before we either bite or kiss, to overhear—Is it Mammy’s voice from beyond the grave?—That one, she could do with a scrub son”. Some of the poems in this slender-ish book are less consummate. The longer verses suffer an occasional sag; the shortest lack a certain punchiness. These worries aside, however, this is a very pleasing collection. —Sean Thomas