This review is taken from Stand 224, 17(4) December 2019 - February 2020.

Anne Fitzgerald, Vacant Possession (Salmon Poetry, 2017)
Antony Rowland, M (Arc Publications, 2017)
Michael Mackmin, And: Poems 1970-2017 (Happenstance, 2017)

The three highly individualistic collections under review collectively tackle themes of love and loss, political and religious interference, terrorism, urban decline and violence head-on and with enviable artistry.

Vacant Possession, Anne Fitzgerald’s fourth collection, is a chronicle of love and loss. It is a fierce, yet quietly uttered, indictment of the Irish Catholic Church and State’s inhumane treatment of unmarried mothers; babies taken from them for a pittance and sold for profit. As Aiden Mathews states in his introduction, the book consists of ‘three trimesters of lyric poetry that conclude in the birth of a single solid volume’, yet there is also a crucial Requiem. Trimester one, the body of ‘self’, is reminiscent of Whitman in its exploration of the ‘body electric’. Because of their rhapsodic imagery these poems seem somehow innocent. In ‘Desire’:
You colonise my thoughts
like twists of fallen away wishes
...      ...
You are the squatter who claims
vacant possession of all that is in me.

 ‘Vacant possession’ alerts us to the oppositional elements of ownership and dispossession evident in this section and, indeed,  throughout the collection. In ‘No Air’, we have: ‘You have bedded down my waking thoughts  in a slumber so deep,’ while in ‘Blackout’, we have: ‘Unlike fog thickening at sea  through sounds of the horn  you arrive unannounced.’ There are shades of Prufrock in ‘Myopic’, ‘... you arrive,  spreading yourself  slowly and deliberately  across the evening’, ...
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