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Highgreen Arts

Matthew Sweeney

Horse Music
By Matthew Sweeney

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Horse Music

Winner of the Pigott Poetry Prize in association with Listowel Writers’ Week

Poetry Book Society Recommendation

Matthew Sweeney's tenth collection of poems is as sinister as its dark forebears, but the notes he hits in Horse Music are lyrical and touching as well as disturbing and disquieting. Confronting him in these imaginative riffs are not just the perplexing animals and folklorish crows familiar from his earlier books, but also magical horses, ghosts, dwarfs and gnomes.

Central to the book are a group of Berlin poems – introducing us to, among things, the birds of Chamissoplatz who warn of coming ecological disaster, or the horses who swim across the Wannsee to pay homage to Heinrich von Kleist in his grave. Many poems in the book range freely across the borders of realism into an alternative realism, while others stay within what Elizabeth Bishop called ‘the surrealism of everyday life’ – such as a tale about Romanian gypsies removing bit by bit an abandoned car.

Horse Music is not only Matthew Sweeney's most adventurous book to date, it is also his most varied, including not only outlandish adventures and macabre musings, but also moving responses to family deaths – balanced by a poem to a newborn, picturing the strange new world that will unfold for her. That strange world unfolds for us too in the eerie poems of Horse Music.

'Horse Music… finds Matthew Sweeney's grim, gleeful, unrelenting fantasies in exuberant shape.' - Sean O'Brien, Independent, Books of the Year 2013

'The book I carry everywhere now is Matthew Sweeney’s Horse Music, for the mix of mythical creatures and everyday life; for reminding me how uncomfortable it can be to remember; for the fact that his work can make me laugh on one page and reduce me to tears on the next; for the sheer pleasure of listening to the rhythm of his words – and for the challenge of trying to dissect how he did it.' - Danica Ognjenovic, Poetry Society's Summer Reads 2014

'In Sweeney's poems, things happen for no reason, it seems, other than to tantalise and entertain. But the cumulative effect is to force us to consider imagination itself: its quirks, its curious dissatisfaction with the everyday...this is a wonderful collection, madcap, laconic, and provocative too.' - Bill Greenwell, Independent [on Horse Music]

‘With its landscapes of desolate isolations, his is often an evocatively noirish world of contemporary angst… The persona of the poems is a troubled, self-aware consciousness taking in but never quite making sense of a contemporary world of fragments, a consciousness stretched and strained, but untouched by self-indulgence, self-pity or self-regard’ – Eamon Grennan, Irish Times.

Matthew Sweeney reads from Horse Music

Matthew Sweeney introduces and reads six poems from Horse Music (2013): 'Horse Music', 'Fans', 'The Tunnel', 'Sunday Morning', 'The Slow Story of No' and 'Booty'. Neil Astley filmed Matthew Sweeney at his home in Cork in February 2012.

£9.95  paperback 
1 85224 967 6.  96pp. 2013. 

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Other books by Matthew Sweeney:
Horse Music (ebook)
Inquisition Lane
Inquisition Lane (ebook)
The Poetry Quartets 9