Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2018
A new child should mean new hope. But what if that’s no longer so? Ailbhe Darcy’s second collection unfolds in an intimate world, in which the words home and love dominate. But the private world is threatened by a public one. Written in the American Rust Belt, in an era of climate change and upheaval, Insistence takes stock of the parent’s responsibility to her child, the poet’s responsibility to the reader, and the vulnerability of the person in the face of global crisis.
In a long poem, Darcy revisits Inger Christensen’s 1981 alphabet, a work which expresses the heart-sickening persistence and proliferation of beauty after Hiroshima. In Darcy’s ‘Alphabet', the spiralling form takes over, insisting on hope. But this is a doubtful sort of hope: hope for life on earth, not necessarily human life. Stink bugs work their way across America, cockroaches waltz, and quixotically-named mushrooms rise from the earth in this flirtatious but volatile collection.
Described by David Wheatley as ‘boldly overhauling the received categories of the Irish poem’ with ‘cunning and humour’, Ailbhe Darcy’s poems interrogate cosmopolitanism as much as they do rootedness, love as much as grief.
‘Insistence includes a remarkable long sequence, Alphabet, which derives its unusual poetic form from the Danish poet Inger Christensen’s alphabetical, accumulating sequence (also named Alphabet). Darcy’s sequence oscillates between doomy prognostication... and scattered consolations.’ – John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
‘The book’s long ﬁnal piece, Alphabet…There is really too much happening in this poem to summarise here, but the experience of reading it is, for me, deeply moving. The horror but also the beauty of humanity, the insistence of the good amongst the awful and the awful amongst the good; that unforgiving ambiguity of humanity, playing against the impassive natural backdrop we need, and are, and are destroying.' – Joey Connolly, The Poetry School
'In the face of terrible knowledge, Darcy has managed the almost impossible here: a collection that, though written in time, seems to go on for all time. In Darcy’s fierce, word-shifting hands the future of poetry seems certain, even if nothing else is.' – Maria Johnston, BodyLit
Ailbhe Darcy reads from Insistence at Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts
In this excerpt from Ailbhe Darcy’s reading (with Finuala Dowling) at Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts on 11 October 2018, she reads six poems from Insistence: ‘Nice’, ‘After my son was born’, ‘A guided tour of the house and its environs’, ‘Ansel Adams’ Aspens’, ‘Silver’ and ’Still’.
Ailbhe Darcy reads ‘After my son was born’
This video is an excerpt from the one above and shows Ailbhe Darcy reading her poem ‘After my son was born’ from Insistence.
Ailbhe Darcy reads ‘Nice’
This video is an excerpt from the fuller video above and shows Ailbhe Darcy reading her poem ‘Nice’ from Insistence.