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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Still Life

$13.95

Available for pre-order

In Still Life, Ciaran Carson guides us through centuries of art and around the Belfast Waterworks where he walks with his wife, Deirdre; into the chemo ward; into memory and the allusive quicksilver of his mind, always bidding us to look carefully at the details of a painter’s canvas, as well as the sunlight of day. This master translator chooses here to translate the painter’s brush with the poet’s pen, finding resemblances, echoes and parallels. A thorn becomes the nib of a writer’s pencil and the pointed pipette of a chemo drip entering the poet’s vein. Yet, Deirdre stands as much in the center of these poems as do the paintings. At times, the two seem to escape into the paintings themselves: “Standing by the high farmstead in the upper left of the picture—there!—in a patch of / sunlight. … They could be us, out for a walk.”

Balancing the desire to escape into the stillness and permanence of art with the insistent yearning to be fully present in each moment, Carson reminds us—“Look! … There!”—that in the midst of illness, even in the face of death, there is, still, life.


Praise for Still Life:

“Abundant, pitch-perfect, Ciaran Carson’s miraculous new poems find their own shapes. Detours illuminate the themes and propel the narratives. Tumult combines with decorum. Meanders give way to rapids. The ‘trills and warbles’ add up unerringly to a majestic utterance, ‘a new acoustic.’ This is indeed writing for dear life. This is a poetry of genius.” –Michael Longley

“In Still Life, Ciaran Carson’s poems take their bearings from ‘the moment / of a painting, where everything is at a standstill.’ Death is in the foreground here, but, with clear-eyed good humor, Carson’s long line holds to the particulars of the here and now and stretches into the future to consider the dissolution of clouds, cities, and bodies, and the endurance of love. Still Life is both a profound, real-time meditation on mortality and art’s power to preserve, and a profoundly moving achievement.” –Leontia Flynn

“In this extraordinary book, one of the great Irish writers of his generation presents poems on a series of paintings, which are also poems about his ‘ordinary’ day-to-day existence, against a backdrop of grave illness and chemotherapy. Like many of the paintings, Carson’s language is resplendent with golden sunlight, vivid color and looming shadow. He has long been celebrated for his linguistic resourcefulness and eye for detail, and here these qualities are more vivid than ever. The almost casual, matter-of-fact manner in which he registers cancer and its treatment has a knock-on effect, as the meditations on the paintings, and on the quotidian world, become depth-charged ruminations on mortality. Profound meditations on ruin and creation: these are wry, sprightly, surprising poems, whose lustre and grace will stay with you long after reading” –Alan Gillis

“The Still Life of Ciaran Carson’s new book is ‘still’ in the sense that the ‘stirrings’ of Samuel Beckett’s last work, Stirring Still, are: its poems speak from a place of apparent tranquillity, but one that on closer inspection teems with furious activity. Still Life is a summing-up of Carson’s life-long love affair with the visual world, and a profound meditation on the attempt to capture it in words. An unexpected lead role goes to the poet’s pencil, which traces a path through the book’s ekphrastic landscapes, heroically advancing in the face of illness. Still Life is a work of visionary daring, and a defiant vindication (‘I go on writing’) of the enduring power of art.” –David Wheatley

SKU: 978-1-930630-91-8 Categories: , ,

Description

Available for pre-order

In Still Life, Ciaran Carson guides us through centuries of art and around the Belfast Waterworks where he walks with his wife, Deirdre; into the chemo ward; into memory and the allusive quicksilver of his mind, always bidding us to look carefully at the details of a painter’s canvas, as well as the sunlight of day. This master translator chooses here to translate the painter’s brush with the poet’s pen, finding resemblances, echoes and parallels. A thorn becomes the nib of a writer’s pencil and the pointed pipette of a chemo drip entering the poet’s vein. Yet, Deirdre stands as much in the center of these poems as do the paintings. At times, the two seem to escape into the paintings themselves: “Standing by the high farmstead in the upper left of the picture—there!—in a patch of / sunlight. … They could be us, out for a walk.”

Balancing the desire to escape into the stillness and permanence of art with the insistent yearning to be fully present in each moment, Carson reminds us—“Look! … There!”—that in the midst of illness, even in the face of death, there is, still, life.


Praise for Still Life:

“Abundant, pitch-perfect, Ciaran Carson’s miraculous new poems find their own shapes. Detours illuminate the themes and propel the narratives. Tumult combines with decorum. Meanders give way to rapids. The ‘trills and warbles’ add up unerringly to a majestic utterance, ‘a new acoustic.’ This is indeed writing for dear life. This is a poetry of genius.” –Michael Longley

“In Still Life, Ciaran Carson’s poems take their bearings from ‘the moment / of a painting, where everything is at a standstill.’ Death is in the foreground here, but, with clear-eyed good humor, Carson’s long line holds to the particulars of the here and now and stretches into the future to consider the dissolution of clouds, cities, and bodies, and the endurance of love. Still Life is both a profound, real-time meditation on mortality and art’s power to preserve, and a profoundly moving achievement.” –Leontia Flynn

“In this extraordinary book, one of the great Irish writers of his generation presents poems on a series of paintings, which are also poems about his ‘ordinary’ day-to-day existence, against a backdrop of grave illness and chemotherapy. Like many of the paintings, Carson’s language is resplendent with golden sunlight, vivid color and looming shadow. He has long been celebrated for his linguistic resourcefulness and eye for detail, and here these qualities are more vivid than ever. The almost casual, matter-of-fact manner in which he registers cancer and its treatment has a knock-on effect, as the meditations on the paintings, and on the quotidian world, become depth-charged ruminations on mortality. Profound meditations on ruin and creation: these are wry, sprightly, surprising poems, whose lustre and grace will stay with you long after reading” –Alan Gillis

“The Still Life of Ciaran Carson’s new book is ‘still’ in the sense that the ‘stirrings’ of Samuel Beckett’s last work, Stirring Still, are: its poems speak from a place of apparent tranquillity, but one that on closer inspection teems with furious activity. Still Life is a summing-up of Carson’s life-long love affair with the visual world, and a profound meditation on the attempt to capture it in words. An unexpected lead role goes to the poet’s pencil, which traces a path through the book’s ekphrastic landscapes, heroically advancing in the face of illness. Still Life is a work of visionary daring, and a defiant vindication (‘I go on writing’) of the enduring power of art.” –David Wheatley

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