#National Poetry Month Gerard Fanning (Irish)
- Author: Gerard Fanning (1952-2017)
- Title: Water & Power
- Published: 2004
- Genre: poetry
- Table of contents: 30 poems
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- Who was Gerard Fanning?
- You probably NEVER heard of him!
- Neither had I…
- While researching Black Rock Baths in
- The IrishTimes I read an article:
- “Poet and Rooney Prize winner Gerard Fanning dies”.
- Who was this man?
- As soon as I opened the article
- …Fanning’s gaze stared past me
- without recognition.
- I looked again.
- There was a puzzling
- …melancholy in his eyes.
- Where was the Irish lilt?
- I knew I had to read his poems.
- The title Water & Power is from
- …one of Fanning’s favorite films
- The cover of the book is …
- muted fungus-green water
- with a tugboat and a few ships
- on the far horizon.
- How bland can you make a book?
- I found the link b/t cover and poem Water & Power.
- Fanning dives into the Merrimack River (USA)
- ..makes a splash (cover)...with an unexpected result!
- Niall Naessens (Irish artist)
- has made better paintings than this! (see fotos at end of review)
- The popular idiom is
- “Don’t judge a book by its cover,”
- …warns us to be objective….
- the vast majority of readers use the cover of a book
- …as a deciding factor in the decision to buy/read the book!
- Despite the cover design
- I dove into the murky water.
Poem: Offering The Light
- The first poem was frustrating
- …so not a good start.
- The only clue I had was the word scoreboard.
- After 2 attempts I finally discovered the poem is about cricket!
- to offer the light = take batsmen off the pitch b/c of fading daylight
- night watchman = rookie batsman sent out to finish the game by fading light
- silly point = field position
- bye = extra scored runs
- If you don’t know these words the poem makes no sense!
Poem: A Carol For Clare
- This is a haunting poem for a woman named Clare.
- Fanning dedicated the book to her
- …but who is Clare?
- There is not much information about Gerard Fanning available.
- 47 words, 5 stanzas, rhyme (ab-ab-ab-ab-ab)
- The poem gives the reader clues…suburbs of Dublin
- Philboro, Portobello, Railto, Pimlico and Marino.
- It feels like Fanning is describing a life moving from
- one place to another with his beloved Clare.
- “Lie with your ghost in Marino…
- Shepherd the fading decibel.”
Poem: The Railway Guard
- This is a description of a walk
- from Drogheda…past the church to Marsh Road.
- Two young lovers….pause to kiss in the
- (lyrical descriptions of flowers) white eel grass,
- sea holly and sea lavender.
- But the young girl turns whiter than all
- the flowers when she meets the narrator’s
- grandfather…the railway guard.
- What is so fascinating about the poem?
- This line:
- “…but Clare smiles and whispers….”
- There she is again …Fanning’s mystery woman!
- Now we know
- …Clare must be Gerard Fanning’s mother.
Poems: that brush at mortality:
The Cancer Bureau
- Images of the patient’s puffed belly being painted with a
- “Load Line or the Plimsol mark.”
- (level reached when a ship is properly load
- “She (nurse) says it will rise and fall in salt water.”
Wide of the Mark
- Image of a nurse coaxing a mirror down throat
- “Pointing like an idot savant
- To the very heart of things.”
- Images of patient in intensive care
- “…after the final blizzard…(stroke)
- head lying amongst the strings of the tent.” (oxygen tent)
- Fanning brings balance in the collection with
- …some very amusing poems!
- The Watcher’s House – a swallow guards his nest…his Alhambra!
- Moving a Garden Shed – describes this Herculean feat!
- Looking up – I’m learniing to read poems…”world of fleece’ = clouds!
- These are found in the
- impressive last poem Canower Sound (pg 49-55)
- 40 couplets…snapshots of Ireland’s west coastline
- mixed with the poet’s thoughts that criss-cross
- with memories of Venice, Florence,
- Tall men like De Valera and De Gaulle,
- Western actor Jack Elam and Swedish director Bergman
- A poem that reflects changing times and places.
- “Waves danced arm in arm
- like a couple of swells,”
- (stylish grand men of high social status)
- Our tide comes and goes
- murmuring in the shag and slime of stones.”
- The poems are meditative, playful
- and some are haunting riddles.
- My only regret is I cannot find any biographical
- …material about the poet that might enrich my readings.
- There are many references to Canada:
- Vancouver, Pr. Edward Island, Cape Spear New Foundland
- Okanagan, British Columbia.
- Fanning must have had a
- …close connection to the country
- …but I’m clueless what the link was.
- Poem: Ludwig, Ruth and I is an other example.
- It took a lot of investigating but I learned that
- ..Fanning refers to
- Ludwig Wittgenstein.
- I still don’t know who Ruth is!
- Strong point: Fanning is a wordsmith!
- He dazzled me with his rich vocabulary
- Strong point: Fanning does not go “mythical”
- …as many poets do to impress.
- It was a pleasent change with no references
- to the gods on Mount Olympus “N”em ( …see post Jericho Brown!)
- Here is the audible essence of Gerard Fanning’s poems.
- He mentioned this classic
- piece of music in the last poem
- Canower Sound
- Don’t be fooled by Fanning’s
- …melancholy “baby-blues”.
- His poems are so rewarding for readers who are
- willing to do some work.
- Some of the poems were hard to read because
- I had to look up so many of the words,
- so there was quite a bit of learning involved!
- That is coming from someone that reads all the time
- …but I do like a good challenge!
- New rule: I put the poetry book under
- my pillow + magnifying glass. (..I can never find my glasses in the dark!)
- Now I can re-read a few poems in the morning…
- while the cat is purring …my brain is still fresh.
- Poems have to settle in my mind.
Paintings by Niall Naessens
- Look at the color!
- Why not use these colors for Water & Power?
Brandon Bay, Ireland
Good Morning, Mr Turner