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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “Poem in Praise of Hysterical Men and Women” by Leontia Flynn

As we prepare for the fast-approaching release of Leontia Flynn’s The Radio next week, we want to share with you a poem from this forthcoming collection. The excerpt below showcases Flynn’s ability to harmonize subjects as strange and familiar as practical science and humor in a manner that is wholly and unapologetically real. Michael Longley perfectly describes Flynn as “quick-witted and big-hearted,” a poet of the younger generation whose force and depth of talent continues to grow.

Poem in Praise of Hysterical Men and Women

Of course only those who have a personality and emotions…
–T.S. Eliot, ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’

The world is born of hysterical men and women.
Our teeth are shiny as accidental stars.
The hot, brilliant workings of our firmaments
of protons, atoms, axons, dendrites—laws
unto themselves—sees Hydrogen’s slow pull
and bloom collide with giddy helium.
This is our ferment: the combustible
and ferret-like—the itch, the twitch, the squirm
and fault-line, down the soul, out of which springs,
little children lying in their beds,
impulsive, freaky, dire imaginings.

And out of the meat and fireworks of the mind
the fuse set there that races to its end.

And the urge, oh yeah, to escape all these things.

Leontia Flynn, from The Radio (2018)

Leontia Flynn was born in County Down in 1974. She now lives in Belfast and teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University. The Radio, her newest collection, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and won the Irish Times Poetry Now Award.

Categories: Leontia Flynn, New Releases, Poem of the WeekTags: , , , ,

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