Wales Book of the Year Award 2019
Winner of the Roland Mathias Poetry Award (Wales Book of the Year Awards)
Winner of the Pigott Poetry Prize 2019 in association with Listowel Writers' Week
Shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2019 and 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, is a proliferation of uncertain and strange lyric events, invigorating poetry at the level of line and language. Her title responds to a work by the poet Inger Christensen that centres around existence. Replacing ‘existence’ with ‘insistence’, Darcy’s work opens up a natural world where love erupts with explosive force onto the necessity of living. The contours and iterations of this book and the depth of Darcy’s thoroughly human project is operatic, mortal, unforgettable.' - Sandeep Parmar, announcing Insistence as the winner of the Wales Book of the Year Award 2019
'Darcy’s Insistence plumbs the darkness of vulnerability in a world proliferating with danger. Her poems marvel at the borders of selfhood with an unflinching courage.' - Sandeep Parmar, announcing Insistence as the winner of the Roland Mathias Poetry Award 2019 (Wales Book of the Year Awards)
'Ailbhe Darcy’s Insistence is a powerful voicing of life-on-the-edge. In this collection the trauma of early motherhood is twinned with economic decline, as she urgently interrogates ideas of domesticity, natural order and environmental responsibility. Her virtuosic adaptation of Inger Christensen’s Alphabet is a monument to the precariousness of our times.' - Sinéad Morrissey, Chair of Judges, T S Eliot Prize 2018
'It was a good year for individual collections too: there was outstanding work in TS Eliot-shortlisted books by Ailbhe Darcy (Insistence, Bloodaxe) and Nick Laird (Feel Free, Faber). - John McAuliffe, The Irish Times (Poetry Books of the Year)
‘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
'Darcy’s Insistence insists on our attention, and negotiating our way through the poems with her is an intensely rewarding experience' - Catherine Ann Cullen, Dublin Review of Books
'...what distinguishes this collection again and again is the always fascinating journeys you are encouraged to take in each poem, as a result of its wonderful balance of control with feverish linguistic invention.' - Martin Malone, Poetry Ireland Review [on Insistence]
‘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
'These are poems that swim zigzag through submerged feelings, “queerly eely”.' – Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times [on Insistence]
‘How can we raise children in a dying world? That’s the question asked and elliptically answered in Insistence. This second book from Darcy… ends with a long tour de force … “Alphabet” is an alliterative poem that sets insistent images of war and environmental catastrophe (“drones”, “drills” and “deathbringers”) against the poet’s love for her newborn child.’ - Tristram Fane Saunders, The Daily Telegraph
'A poignant wrangling with the impossibility of bringing new life into this world fearlessly, Insistence also celebrates the triumph of joy in the face of those fears.' - Jazmine Linklater, Poetry Wales
'The collection is a fine example of Darcy’s skill to spur and to play with narrative – to make the language of her work reflect the urgency of the issues it portrays.' - Elizabeth Ridout, Agenda
‘In her outstanding and formally audacious 20 page long poem ‘Alphabet’, the hope brought by her becoming a mother does battle with dark thoughts about the state of planet Earth... In this minor masterpiece of a poem, in which she makes repeated mantra-like use of the word “insists”, Darcy brilliantly melts the fake wall between the personal and the political, and there are moments of great tenderness infused with undeniable political implications… Ailbhe Darcy is a necessary voice for this wild and crazy age, and she is probably the best Irish poet of her immediate generation.’ – Kevin Higgins, Galway Advertiser
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.
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