Paul Durcan: The Berlin Wall Cafe



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Great postmodern Irish poetry Closing out the year 2018 with the wonderful poetry of Paul Durcan I liked that Irish voice from the very first pages candid direct even jaunty Poems like The Haulier s Wife and High Speed Car Wash and Bewley s Oriental Cafe have a beautiful sparkle about them but soon enough Durcan moves on to the inexhaustible topic of Catholic hypocrisy on sexual matters These are subtle sarcastic poems some written at the height of the bitter abortion debates of the 1980s Thrown into the mix is The Feast of St Bridget a gut punch of a poem that addresses the elentless blood letting of the Troubles Who knows this stuff could become elevant again post BrexitThe second half contains the confessional soul of this volume In a series of plangent poems Durcan carries out a sustained post mortem on the corpse of his 15 year marriage that expired when his wife walked out on him He is honest to the point of painfulness here full of self knowledge and self eproach There s da. This was the collection with which Durcan broke through to the huge and appreciative audience he enjoys today In the first part are poems of great satirical comedy and also of great passion and indignation and.

Zzlers aplenty and it s hard to choose from among them but titles like Hymn to a Broken Marriage and At the Funeral of the Marriage give some hint of what lies within That inscrutable immanence which for me is the truest mark of poetry that spirit is present here in spades If I was forced to choose just one I d probably go with The Turkish Carpet but seriously these are all brilliant poems love lyrics to stand the test of time Here for instance is the poet agonistesThe Turkish CarpetNo man could have been unfaithfulTo his wife than me Scarcely a day passedThat I was not unfaithful to herI would be in the living oom ostensibly eading or writingWhen she d come home from work unexpectedly earlyAnd popping her head The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party round the door find me wrappedoundA figure of despairIt would not have been too bad if I d been wrapped oundAnother woman that would have been an infidelity of a kindWith which my wife could have copedWhat she could not cope with try as she didWas the infidelity of unhopeTh. In the second part poems about the break up of a marriage so intense they would hurt if they weren't also possessed of the healing gifts of truthfulness and humour In The Berlin Wall Caf Durcan has located that.

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E personal betrayal of universal despairWhen my wife called to me from the living Blue Moose room doorTremblingly ajar with her head peeringound it The paintwork studded with headwounds and knuckleprints Called to me across the The Sky Weaver (Iskari, reded grass of home The Turkish Carpet Which her gay mother had given us as a wedding presentAnd on which our children had so often playedDolls houses on their hands and kneesAnd headstands and cartwheels and dancesAnd on which we ourselves had so often made loveI clutched my despair to my breastAnd with brutality kissed it Sweet Despair Staring ed eyed down at The Turkish CarpetOh my dear husband will you not be faithful to meHave I not given you hope all the days of my lifePS A major problem was printing mistakes lots of missing to s fatal in a book of poetry and totally unexpected considering not just the vintage but also the venerable publisherPPS Here is a less charitable take from Alan Dent I wonder what he would make of someone like Wendy Cope or Hugo Williams. Space between the walls and barriers societies and individuals erect a no man's land of the free imagination where we meet as the vulnerable and comical human beings we are It contains some of his very best wo.

Durcan was educated at University College Cork where he studied archaeology and medieval history He lives in Dublin Awards 1974 Patrick Kavanagh Award1989 Irish American Cultural Institute Poetry Award1990 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry shortlist for Daddy Daddy1990; Whitbread Poetry Award for Daddy Daddy1995 Heinemann Award joint winner