Winner of the 2005 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature; winner of the 2005 Ireland Chair for Poetry Award; the only poetry book long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award.
Uncommonly various, quirky and always intelligent, this poetic debut from Laird (raised in Northern Ireland, now a lawyer in London) comes on the heels of his debut novel, Utterly Monkey (Reviews, Nov. 14). Both attracted deserved plaudits in Britain; this book's verbal gifts, and its mix of city and country topics, could well do the same over here. Ulster sights and Ulster troubles play unmistakable roles in Laird's fluent lines: one poem takes place "at the mythic coast, by the kitchen stove"; another describes a man kneecapped by paramilitaries. As the book proceeds, Irish backgrounds give way to cosmopolitan vocabularies and to the concerns of any adult with a love life. Rhyming poems and other strict forms bid for quotation by all who have felt as Laird does: "Aubade," for example, begins: "Go home. I haven't slept alone/ in weeks and need to reach across/ the sheets to find not warmth but loss." As with Glyn Maxwell and Paul Muldoon (to whom he may be much compared), Laird's facility can shade over into glibness, and his slick forms can conceal their emotional cores. Just as often, though, his hints and phrases reveal a sad, uncertain, likable character. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.