After that, we fell out of touch, and went our separate ways. He went on to become an arts administrator, civil servant, creative writing teacher, and publican. He also wrote short fiction, reviews, and for the theatre. Life happened. In 2009 I read his third collection, and was pleased to see he still had the touch that had so inspired me when I was a younger poet - Martin taught me much about Irish and British poetry, and argued for the value of Wordsworth. My poetry since the late 80s has been strongly influenced by Irish poetry, especially that from the North. Anyway, enough about me. I am very glad he will be reading from his excellent fourth collection, The Resurrection of the Body at Killysuggen, for the series I run.
Mooney's poetry remains a touchstone for me - it is highly-intelligent, especially sensitive to politics and history (he has a fondness for Cold War images and communist references), weather (he likes snow), the local, and, adds to this a strong sense of craft, subtle music, and humour. He's one of the best Irish poets writing under the age of 50. Below find a few of my favourite poems from his latest book.
In the cold light of spring it’s a photograph
from Picture Post: factories, gasometers.
through wetlands towards a horizon of cranes
and windsocks, of cargo ships. There’s
been a light drift of snow and the Nissen
huts are sugared with it. Nothing moves,
until a turboprop comes in to land and scares
a single pearl-grey heron from the reed-beds.
It beats past Bauhaus offices, a refugee,
a ghost from the show trials, over our heads:
ration-books, industry, the war years.
Portrait of a young nobleman holding a lemur
Conspirator, swordsman, amateur poet,
his pet on its silver chain has the skinniest arms
and widest eyes in the whole chateau.
Blind-looking, feral glamour stares and stares
at something you can’t see. Imagine
fur and weeping scullions, maps of the wars.
They don’t, as a rule, live long. What will he do
when its brittle bones are buried in the keep?
Who will he find to talk to? How will he sleep?
poems by Martin Mooney; reprinted from The Resurrection of the Body at Killysuggen; with permission of the author.