Opera Et Cetera

11.9518.50

Informed in part by Irish ballad metre and its criss-cross assonances, these poems contemplate the structure of authority and language. Opera Et Cetera comprises four sequences including ‘Letters from the Alphabet’ and ‘Opera’ which is based on the radio operator’s code. As distorting mirrors of each other, they question the way we tell stories all the time. Rhyme itself fuels these experiments in narrative. ‘Et Cetera’ reinvigorates the vocabulary of Latin tags, while, ‘Alibi’ consists of versions from the Romanian of Stefan Augustin Doinas, whose investigations of powers-that-be find parallels in contemporary Ireland. In its obsessive musical sweep, the book is a tour de force. It is also, sometimes, very funny.

Ciaran Carson won the first T S Eliot prize three years ago for First Language. In this new collection he still plays prodigally with language, but the tone here is warm rather than raging. You get the same, strength, melody, verbal pyrotechnics and long line, but it is focused on something different: the notion of series, represented by those atoms of the poets trade, the letters of the alphabet. The book is four series of poems: one based on the alphabet itself, one on radio code, one that brings to life the sleeping clichés of Latin tags, and a series of versions from a Romanian poet, Stephan Doinas. The poems are funny, sly, spectacular, and constantly question how language is used, how poems work and how you respond to them: how you think in words.’ — Ruth Padel

 

. . . this poet’s most eclectic and provocative collection to date. — Honest Ulsterman

 


 

Carson’s work has a warmth of sympathy which is not brandished or advertised but exists as the lifeblood of his imagination. — Sean O’Brien, Poetry Review

 


 

Ciaran Carson won the first T S Eliot prize three years ago for First Language. In this new collection he still plays prodigally with language, but the tone here is warm rather than raging. You get the same, strength, melody, verbal pyrotechnics and long line, but it is focused on something different: the notion of series, represented by those atoms of the poets trade, the letters of the alphabet. The book is four series of poems: one based on the alphabet itself, one on radio code, one that brings to life the sleeping clichés of Latin tags, and a series of versions from a Romanian poet, Stephan Doinas. The poems are funny, sly, spectacular, and constantly question how language is used, how poems work and how you respond to them: how you think in words. — Ruth Padel

 


 

The chief protagonist of any Carson poem is the language itself, the dazzle of possibility it offers to the restless and relentlessly ludic imagination. The characteristic poem  proceeds by a manic associativeness, until the canvas is both illuminated and scorched by the verbal lightning. — Peter Sirr, The Irish Times

 


 

Carson never puts a foot wrong; and as a consequence there is not a dull line in the book. It’s exhausting and exhilarating; a dazzling ludic performance. —Lawrence Norfolk, TLS

Year Published: 1996
Details: 96pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 187 8
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 188 5

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