Author : Michael Coady
Publisher: Gallery Press
ISBN: 1 85235 211 6
All Souls by Michael Coady is a wonderful collection of poems filled with the deep meaning of the community life surrounding the Irish poet’s hometown Carrick-on-Suir, and the river that runs through it and shows the history of family through migrations to the United States and back.
One of the first thing a reader notices about the collection is the merging of prose, poetry and photographs and the ease in which the poet brings to life the world around him, particularly the people, how they meet, how they talk, what they say and the music that binds their down time. The collection is structured much the same way, with sections titled Voices, Visitations, three longer pieces, one titled All Souls and then Five Airs from Older Music followed by the use of Memory.
The title poem “All Souls” serves to bind the piece and is an elaborate, hearty trip of saying goodbye to friends while stumbling home after drinking and relaxing with friends. It is built using repetition and rhythm but is in essence a list poem, this is the second stanza:
after the last of the round and yarning
about the charms of the women of Cork
about Plunger Maher and Sheet Metal’s missus
about Bugler Whalen and Butt O’Spuds
about nights of promise in Ballyneen
about Lucius O’Niell who could converse in Latin
This stanza on its own showcases humor, gossip, romance, language, and the essence of yarning, which is knowing about others and their doings. The piece continues on with a litany of people met, and places he’s been to a moment that catches him lost in time with awe.
Orates Fratres (Pray brethern) follows with a musical list poem that ties in the tradition of praying for the sick, dying, and needy in the Catholic church service that is a list of all the people in town, here’s an example of the third page:
for Edmund Green the sieve maker
and Nick Faolain the priest
for Henry Hayden the watchmaker
and John Power the proctor
for Mary Brennan the charwoman
and Daniel Ryan the doctor.
Let us pray
Ar son gach n-aon
For all of these,
Michael Coady is showing the jobs, the lives, and the languages in use including Latin, English, Gaelic and the power of community, tradition of Catholicism and prayer in a simple poem that is meant to be read out loud—the meter, the rhyme, the repetition, the solemnity, and different emphasis comes out in how he has set the poem up.
For the reader, these poems are like an anthropological study of life in Ireland.
In "Time’s Kiss", Michael Coady writes a unique three stanza poem that shows the transition between a young girl and a woman, with a hidden secret in between. It tells a tragedy with subtlety and emotion. Throughout, the reader often finds traces of humor, sorrow, or a touch of spite. Often the words used are quite Irish such as “ruz him up” meaning to dig up or that gormless pit, which maybe be obvious and lots of musical terms such as jigs, reels, and bodhran.
People that will enjoy this collection are those interested in history, the Irish, music, family backgrounds, humor, poetry and the telling of a rich tale.