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Misery Hill


David Wheatley’s first collection, Thirst, was widely praised for its restless adventures in time and place. Misery Hill concentrates on what look like more familiar locales. The Dublin street of its title is a derelict site which, in the author’s hands, becomes powerfully evocative of the secret and forgotten life of the city. Alternating between Dublin and County Wicklow, Misery Hill interrogates the present in the light of the past, exploring time and memory in poems deeply rooted in the psychic geography of their settings. These range from explorations of family history, politics and love to the title poem’s long purgatorial journey through a city uneasily reminiscent of contemporary Dublin.

‘Wheatley’s technical resources are an unobtrusive pleasure to read; he can produce seemingly effortless villanelles, quasi-sonnets and loose but authoritative free verse. Misery Hill is an engaging collection.’
— Peter Reading, Times Literary Supplement.

‘”Misery Hill” is the title of the volume, the title of a poem of sorts, and the title of the most accomplished section of the volume, a sequence of thirty-three sonnets that at their best mingle elements of many poets, as diverse as Dante and Heaney, as well as John Berryman. In the voice of Nemo, presumably the Nemo Loris after whom another sonnet in the volume is written (“Rubik’s Cube”) readers may recognize the spirit of Mr. Bones.’ — New Hibernia Review

This is Misery Hill, a sad, forgotten Dublin street, hardly more than a name on a map, and yet ‘more solid than so many other ghosts’. David Wheatley wonderfully evokes the spirit of place, the city that once was, but is mostly now lost to time, and conjures up a fair share of ghosts as well. He knows that all sense of the present is rooted in the past, in memory and history, in the rubble of earlier times. Wheatley has a talent for the line, an exacting diction and keen ear. The heavy hand he shows from time to time is discerning, complemented and disarmed by moments of strange and subversive ideas, by a quick and subtle wit.

Louis McKee, Nua: Studies in Contemporary Irish Writing

Year Published: 2000
Details: 96pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 277 6
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 278 3

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