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The Review - BOOKS
Published:18 December 2008
Aoife Mannix
Aoife Mannix
Casting light on the city chick, the romantic and the rebel

Young poet Salena Godden reviews new volumes from ‘three of the most
interesting talent currently on the poetry and spoken-word scene’

Turn The Clocks Upside Down.
By Aoife Mannix. £8.

By Joe Duggan. £7.
(Both published by Tall-Lighthouse, 384 Lee High Road, Lee Green, London SE12 8RW.)

This One Is For You.
By Agnes Meadows
Flipped Eye Publishing £5.99.

WITH the slogan “Illuminating words”, independent publishers Tall-Lighthouse do just that, with a stable that boasts some of the most interesting talent currently on the spoken-word and poetry scene, including Heather Taylor and Brendan Cleary among many others.
There has been a flourish of new Tall-Lighthouse publications catching my attention and none more than the new collection by the prolific Irish author and poet Aoife Mannix, one of the hardest workers in poetry right now and one of the most popular too. As well as her new collection of poems, and juggling myriad tour dates, she has also just launched her first novel Heritage of Secrets (Lubin & Kleyner).
If you manage to catch Aoife Mannix performing live, and I recommend you do, her approach is very much her own.
She’s a great story-teller and has the gift of reeling you in gently with wonderful metaphors and bittersweet language; then, just as you get comfortable, she’ll slap you with the punchline.
Aoife Mannix has written four collections of poetry – The Trick of Foreign Words, The Elephant in the Corner, Growing Up An Alien and her new Turn The Clocks Upside Down – all from Tall Lighthouse.
She has a unique voice, sharp, succinct and wry. This collection is purely that voice, in turn both tender and witty with themes of travel, journeys, time lost and time found.
We are transported back to Aoife’s childhood, growing up in Dublin, Ottawa and New York. With poems like Daffodils and Advice, she paints those years perfectly – the summers of innocence. In other poems we get a peek into Aoife’s life as a London city chick. She packs these feistier pieces with weighty images and snarling analogies.
There is the powerful and heartbreaking ode to Billie Holiday titled God Bless The Child and also twisted lines like these from the poem Fashion Statement: I’d have earrings made of beer bottle caps / and a champagne cork inserted into my navel.
Also from Tall-Lighthouse comes the stunning debut collection Fizzbombs by Irish poet Joe Duggan. With poems that conjure up his childhood, being brought up during the struggles in Northern Ireland and his life as a student, this collection is vibrant and memorable.
The opening poem, Fizzbombs On Ballymena Street, is the kicked-in doorway into Joe’s world – an early memory of the author aged three, surrounded by violence and making a childlike connection with sherbert and candy. Written from the child narrator viewpoint, it is brutally powerful and evocative:
And I played with a boy called Simon / and his mammy was shot by the UVF/ and I went and saw her dead.
Also among Joe Duggan’s first collection are some truly romantic love poems, showing a softer side to the nature of his work. With great poems such as the lovely Bingo and The Library Lovers, Duggan touches even the most cynical heart with their sense of longing and looking for the love of your life.
Lastly, the new collection by north London resident and award-winning poet Agnes Meadows is a rich and intense journey. Here we find themes of remembrance and history and the beauty hidden beneath the everyday and ordinary.
Agnes Meadows is a rebel and a powerhouse of a writer; her work is all-woman. I recently had the pleasure of catching her reading live and what struck me most was the razor-sharp delivery: she’s exciting to listen to and delivers with a real kick.
Agnes is the author of five books – You and Me, Quantum Love, Woman, At Damascus Gate on Good Friday and this latest collection, This One is For You.
It is dedicated to the late Brinsley Sheridan, her long-time friend and fellow poet and, as the name suggests, the title poem This One’s For You celebrates a true friendship, and love of such a vibrant man. I am sure we’d all love to have met him.
So this one is for you / Because a million love poems are written everyday /
But not enough are written about friendship.

* To see any of these poets live check their MySpace pages for dates:  

* Salena Godden is a poet, author and lead singer with ska-punk band SaltPeter.
Her memoirs, Springfield Road, will published by Harper Press in the spring.

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