Curse of The Birds
Publication Date: Monday, May 01, 2000
Cover Artwork: Austin Carey. Design by Brenda Dermody
About this Book
Curse of The Birds evokes a world of myth and dark energies. The flight of the soul in each of the four sections is unsettling. Ghosts abound in a bleak fragmented landscape. Curse of The Birds is a quarrel from within, wrestling with loneliness and uncertainty. It is elegiac, mischievously humorous and satirical. Noel Monahan speaks with compassion about and for the voiceless people whose ghosts haunt him.
Noel Monahan has won several awards for his work. In 2001 he won the prestigious SeaCat National Poetry Award, organised by Poetry Ireland. Also in 2001 he won the RTE, P.J. O'Connor Award, for his play, Broken Cups. In 2002 he won the ASTI Achievements Award for his contribution to literature at home and abroad. Other awards include The Allingham Poetry Award and The Kilkenny Prize for Poetry. Noel Monahan's work has appeared in The Irish Times, The Sunday Tribune, Books Ireland, Poetry Australia, Paterson LIterary Review, USA and many more outlets. His collections of poetry include Opposite Walls (Salmon, 1991), Snowfire (Salmon, 1995) and The Funeral Game (Salmon 2002) He is co-editor of Windows Publications and has published five Authors & Artists Introduction Series. His plays include Half A Vegetable, a dramatic presentation of Patrick Kavanagh's poetry, A Proverbial Wet Summer, and Feathers of Time. His poetry has been translated into Italian, Romanian and French and he has read his work at numerous summer schools and poetry festivals throughout Ireland. His poetry has appeared in many anthologies, most recently texts for Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate English. The Funeral Game is Noel Monahan's fourth collection of poetry. Opposite Walls was published in 1991, Snowfire in 1995, and Curse of The Birds in 2001, all published by Salmon Poetry.
Read a sample from this book
Curse of The Birds
(Copyright Noel Monahan 2000. All Rights Reserved.)
Review by Maurice Harmon in the Autumn 2000 issue of Poetry Ireland Review, edited by Biddy Jenkinson
Noel Monahan is a capable poet who shapes his poems with skill, liking the well-made look (even lines, spare language, concrete images) and this suits him. When he works in a looser form -- with lines of uneven length and a free verse form -- the effect is less satisfying and the poems have an unfinished quality. He has a lively, buoyant personality, a fresh adventurous imagination and delights in verbal dexterity. His fine poetic intelligence is sometimes indebted to that able craftsman, Austin Clarke, particularly in the word-play. Some poems have the freshness of folk tales, the magic of myth and legend. The unexpected is a cause of delight. Monahan's poems take place in a sunlit imagination where the blacker side of life, although not absent, is not allowed to darken the material. They are delightful poems, entertaining, high-spirited, with their feet on the ground of the familiar even when they deal with the marvelous and the invisible.
'The Dance' takes place in a real place, a dance-hall in Granard, but the normality of the night is disturbed by the dancer from 'nowhere'.
Long-haired. Dark skinned.
A gleam in his eye.
He was in such demand.
His erection is something else. When a partner fainted, 'Hysteria broke loose' and the man from God knows where exits through the floor in 'flames and smoke'. The result is as one might expect -- fathers 'up in arms', shut-down, gossip, wild stories of orgies, naked women, some sex-mad.
Monahan has a relaxed touch: exact without being uptight. When he creates a picture, the means are few and simple, as in 'The Swallow's Nest'.
Is a word of mouth
Calling them back
To patch the wall
In the half-way house.
It is hardly surprising that he writes 'Drumlin Haiku'.
Rosary of hills
Chained to the cold religion
Of the ice goddess.
The mythological poems are light and magical; they dazzle the mind and have a comic touch, as in 'Abbeyshrule'.
They were all peering
At me in Abbeyshrule,
Little tonsured men
Down at the bridge, up the trees,
Behind headstones, gates and gables.
When I sang
Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Before an altar of nettles,
Blackbirds and starlings
Flew from the vestry.
There are lovely poems in Part III, such as 'The Haymaker', 'The Nuns' Graveyard' and 'Donnelly's Bus'. One hardly expects so much pleasure in a small collection.
(Copyright: Poetry Ireland Review, 2000)