Another Time: Poems 1978-2023 brings together Gerald Dawe’s new collection of poems with an extended selection from his eight previous books published by The Gallery Press. In lucid and ironic meditations on personal life, love and loss amid the crises of public history, Another Time shares the unmistakable lyrical grace of the poet’s earlier volumes: ‘A supreme and calm assurance, again and again, pitch-perfect in tone and form’ (David Park).
The art of memory and the play of the past within an unfolding and often elusive present is never far away in this ample gathering. As Patrick Lodge remarked of Dawe’s The Last Peacock, ‘These poems are a joy to read. Concise, never wasteful of word nor emotion, they have heft that belies their brevity. They are intense and are alive in their telling craft — a craft which manifests itself in the careful assembly of sounds and pace within the poems.’
The poems of Another Time are crystalline, elegiac and effortlessly achieved; reminiscence is their engine. 1969 is a poem on the edge of violence and queries a photograph of “the family group [..] in their Sunday best”. But this image also includes the aftermath of an explosion: “Was it a furniture shop / or the local bar, it’s hard / to tell; but the colour snap / has remained intact”. Poems and photographs enjoy a camaraderie: sometimes each makes images that outlast the people and things they depict. But the poet knows something the photograph doesn’t, even as he asks, ‘What then? What then?’”
Beyond historical time, Dawe’s poems touch on the time of friendship and artistic companionship: there are moving elegies for Brendan Kennelly (Worry Beads); Thomas Kinsella (The Tower); and Derek Mahon (Make Believe), wherein, as the elegist is inclined, he imagines a spirit-familiar for the poet: “more like a local bird soaring high / enough to have a really good look / at what lies below amongst the nooks / and crannies of our ordinary lives”.
There are poems of illness here too, and the “silver magic juice” of treatment, whose steady voice and craftedness makes them all the more poignant. Another Time, a poem of five parts, is one of little routines in the odd, wee hours when “the body calls”, where the poems that might have been “stray off / into an ambulance siren”. Emotionally resonant and quietly brilliant.
— Stephen Sexton, The Irish Times
Publication date: 7 September 2023
ISBN PBK: 978 1 91133 855 0
ISBN HBK: 978 1 91133 856 7
Cover: ‘Untitled A’ (2017) by Martin Redmond