Salmonpoetry have published six of Enniscorthy-born poet Eamonn Wall's books since 1994 and this year they brought out Junction City ( New & Selected Poems 1990 - 2015). This contains a section of New Poems - The Gathering Suite and selections from the six other collections. This emphasises mostly the Irish themes where Wall has a liminal existence between Irish nostalgia and an emerging American voice that has more academic notes ( He is a professor of International Studies and English in the University of Missouri-St Louis). Water seems to be a confluence and a connection for his imagination.
The opening poem For The Gathering has a Ferlinghetti quotation " I like it here/ and I won't go back/ where I came from". But Eamonn Wall cannot stop himself going back and that is the energy of his poetry. An ebb and flow across two continents, restless and a touch lonely. That sadness is expressed in that opening poem: "Leaving Enniscorthy on the 5.55 bus to Dublin/ In the early evening darkness". And he continues: "Though there's talk again of trawling up/ one mighty gathering of emigres/We know it is impossible to collar/Shoals rendered so long invisible". Wall struggles to accept that 'invisibility' and writes " We are members the proud diaspora rolling out-of-town. My father's/ Face fully lighted up and laughing I would never see again... Roll on my river, roll. Roll on river, lead me home"
The next poem is Missouri River Runner with the echoing American line "Time is short". The poems seem to alternate: Hart Crane's Bridge with its nod to "the primrose on the Wexford road". River Slaney: New Year's Day has " a boychild builds a snowman in a Pennsylvania backyard".
In the title poem, he proclaims " My home is where I am, old wise blue bus". But I find it hard to believe him.
The influence of Rory Galagher blends " big muddy cities/ Gorey/Chicago/Arklow/ St Louis". In Your Rivers Have Trained You, Wall sums up his dilemma and the rivers in his life, Slaney, Hudson, Missouri, Mississippi and the refrain " You've got to leave home/ You don't want to do it too soon/ Or leave it too long".
As part of my research into Eamonn Wall I viewed the film Eamonn Wall - Your Rivers Have Trained You by Paul O'Reilly of Scallta Media, where Wall reads his poetry and talks about his journey from home to home, restless like a river.