With a title of Noble Rot it sets the tone for a collection of juxtaposition and startling oppositional forces but I was wrong. This collection, published by Dublin based Turas Press, is reminiscent of Jack Kerouac with its conversational and confessional style but Irish, and, dare I say it, cool. Maolalai writes cool poetry. The sparse punctuation adds to the breathlessness and fast insights of a poet telling their story before the pub closes or the work day begins.
This work is Irish but different – casual, shorter lines, a story told through the lens of a poem. The body is included through poetic description of its standing in relation to the environment; the city, driving, the countryside, movement through space and time and the small, incidental moments that make up a lifetime – captured and made iconic through the very act of becoming a published poem.
VERBS – the poet writes of things around them moving and yet I always get the feeling of their stillness and letting the lived experience wash over them. Maybe I was wrong to first describe it as breathless and fast – this work allows my own interpretation of the work, as my projection settles I get a sense of calm. And that is where the juxtaposition of opposition forces comes in – such hero’s journey of a normal person living in a moving world and writing as if sitting by the dock of the bay….inviting the reader to become the guide, the witness, the casual observer.
I really dig it, ya know. Irish yet Americiana cool, so much busy living told – still. There was a touch of Frank Mcourt as these poems are (I assume) autobiographical, so this gorgeous tone and sleight of hand crept into them, almost melancholy yet never dour or depressing, more Spring-like. I also get aromas of Joseph O’Connor’s Irish Male. The title is taken from wine – noble rot involves grapes getting a fungus infection resulting in a sweet wine.
I’d include this book in my arsenal for workshops as it is a joy to read and flowering with hues of good edits, delicate Irish turn of phrase and lovingly hand stitched through a talanted poetic edge.
Review by Michelle Moloney King for Beir Bua Press.