Michael Coady

Oven Lane and Other Poems


I love the abandon

Of abandoned things

(from Letting Go)

Elegies tend to be a lament, and they occur frequently throughout this memorable volume, a revisiting of a collection first published in 1987, or, as described by Gallery, an ‘amplified’ edition, which is accurate, because Coady is best read aloud, all the better to indulge the phonic range of the Tipperary vernacular .

It appears to me that Coady’s first lines flow easily, and then he allows the theme and the structure to unfold of themselves, independent of himself, bequeathing to the reader the pleasure of encountering many styles, so that the collection is one of contrasts, and the voice can alter from one poem to the next.

You will be struck by the subterranean coursing of an elegiac stream in poems such as Sally Edmonds, Job Wilks And the River and Assembling the Parts, where the poet familiarises himself with the untimely passing, invariably tragic, of young people, such as the girl in Abandoned Churchyard.

Shattered is the stone

    Above a girl made mad by

Unrequited love.

The only haiku in the volume, Coady lays the framework with the forceful progression of syllables from the emphatic ‘shattered’, and in that word is the essence of the poem’s impact. It’s a rare thing indeed, when a poet knows it is time to stop.

It would be misleading to package the poet’s empathy with the dead of his poems as mere observations on mortality: in rushed poems, alliteration can become vitiated through indiscipline, but Coady has nailed the art in The Fruit (stiff in ledgered certainties, scripted in the hedge school of suppurating fields) and again in Job Wilks And the River with the same consonant, a poem which unashamedly plunders the emotional booty of A.E. Housman.

Job Wilks, a 28- year -old English soldier, accidentally drowned at Carrick-on-Suir in 1868, and the ever observant Coady is moved by a commemorative stone erected in his memory by his comrades. The concluding verse contains the pathos of a grieving parent:

On a July day of imperial sun

Did your deluged eyes find

Vision of Wessex, as Suir water

Sang in your brain?

To spend some time in the company of Coady is to unmask the detonated seed of a fresh awareness.



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