Shortlisted for the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize
In her fourth collection, Leontia Flynn rehearses and resolves the concerns and forms of previous books, beginning with a sequence written in the aftermath of her father’s death from Alzheimer’s disease and during the care of her daughter in infancy. Moving on to explore the constructed nature of childhood, via a long poem imagining her mother’s experiences in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and in an elegy for Seamus Heaney, the poems also seek to contrast the isolation and privacy of an experience of family life with increasingly pervasive and relentless digital technologies.
Drawing on a range of other voices and literary exemplars, including a tradition of verse drama and dialogues, and particularly Plath’s ‘Three Women’, The Radio sees writing poems as a communication that begins with an act of interior listening, for sounds and forms, and to personal sources of meaning.
The Radio explores the pressure the interior life faces from both the usual quotidian struggles and the new stridency and quick-fire certainties of virtual communication. Showing her superb mastery of form, Leontia Flynn’s poems are fragile, funny, observant and engaging – reminding us, once again, of her originality and importance.
Funny, touching, satirical, breathtaking and dazzling by turns, packed full of exceptional poems. -- Damian Smythe * Belfast Morning Telegraph * The Radio sparkles with 21st-century chutzpah, sometimes offset by maternal angst. -- Carol Rumens * Guardian * Anybody with an interest in poetry should be reading Leontia Flynn. Those with no interest should be reading her too: she has what it takes to overcome resistance. All mothers - especially new mothers - should read her. Her understanding of what it is to be a woman is one of the things (by no means the only thing) that makes this collection so powerful. Her thinking is complicated but never arrogantly inaccessible. I was bowled over by this, her fourth collection. I kept returning to poems for the sheer pleasure of them - no slog involved. -- Kate Kellaway * Observer * Leontia Flynn's The Radio sees one of Northern Ireland's most assured voices continue her engagement with the alchemy of form in an effortlessly contemporary manner, indeed driving the thought thrillingly through longer stanza forms, including a brilliant elegy for Heaney. Theexposure of family, and its intimate matrix of the generations, to the equal threats of history and human frailty is played out in work with an intense sense of place and moment. -- W.N. Herbert, chair of the judges of the 2017 Eliot Prize Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, The Radio is an outstanding book from a poet who is not only one of the best writers of her generation but who seems, more and more, to be the voice of that generation. -- John McAuliffe * Irish Times *
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