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Shadow of the Owl | Bloodaxe Books
matthew-sweeney-shadow-of-the-owl

Matthew Sweeney

Shadow of the Owl

Matthew Sweeney

Publication Date : 22 Oct 2020

ISBN: 9781780375427

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice

Shadow of the Owl is Matthew Sweeney's final collection, bringing together the poems he wrote during a year of debilitating illness. He died from Motor Neuron Disease in 2018 shortly after publishing My Life as a Painter, written before he became ill, but which was – like all his previous collections – preparation for this final work.

In a sequence of dark fables, a hapless figure is hounded by a procession of invisible enemies who want him dead. These jokers – kidnappers, assassins, liars all – have many methods at their disposal, from crucifixion or hanging to bombing or mauling by crocodile… A menacing owl comes to the garden each night for twelve nights, but refuses to deliver its devastating news.

All of Sweeney’s verve and spiky humour are present in these last poems, following, as always, the unnerving logic of dreams. But the dream has become a nightmare, and the catastrophe, impending in all the earlier collections, has now come to pass.

For more than forty years Matthew Sweeney sought to capture, in poetry, the life of a body menaced and condemned to wander in a terrifying place – but a body fully alive to the sensuous pleasures of the world, and the vulnerability of exposure to its loss. His final poems are imbued with a lyrical beauty and great sadness at leaving that world just as the spirit was burning as brightly as ever.

'A poet of great wit and invention who'll be deeply missed by so many of us.' - Anthony Anaxagorou on Matthew Sweeney, Shadow of the Owl, his PBS Winter Wild Card Choice

‘It’s a beautiful book, a reminder of the poet we have lost, and a courageous affirmation of the power of the imagination in the face of death.’ – Andy Croft, Morning Star [on Shadow of the Owl]

 

Tributes to Matthew Sweeney

'...one of the most adventurous, life-enhancing and distinctive poets of his gifted generation.' – Bill Swainson paying tribute to the late Matthew Sweeney in The Guardian

'Matthew had the courage of his own idiosyncratic sensibility; nobody now writing has Matthew’s gift for employing language and images of fable to such a dark and unsettling effect, ringing the changes from tenderness to dark comedy with such power and verve.' – Theo Dorgan, paying tribute to Matthew Sweeney in The Irish Times

‘Matthew Sweeney has been a singular presence in Irish poetry for decades, and the much-travelled, Donegal-born poet had finished two reassuringly characteristic new books before his death in August. One of them, My Life as a Painter, includes many new signature poems, tales whose surprising images suddenly gather additional narrative force.’ – John McAuliffe, The Irish Times

‘… his was a poetry of great possibility, a poetry of hope – for all its apparent darkness – a poetry of an imagined, alternative reality.’ – Keith Payne, Dublin Review of Books [on My Life as a Painter]

International launch reading for Shadow of the Owl

Shadow of the Owl was launched on October 20th with readings from the book by poets, friends and loved ones from around the world: Mary Noonan (in Cork), Thomas Lynch (Indian River, Michigan, USA), Nico McClean (Belfast), Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Dublin), David O’Meara (Ottawa), Maurice Riordan (London), Padraig Rooney (Münchenstein, Switzerland), and Jan Wagner (Berlin). This very moving and poignant celebration of Matthew's life and poetry was hosted by editor Neil Astley from Tarset in Northumberland.

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.

 

Matthew Sweeney reads from Inquisition Lane at Ledbury

Matthew Sweeney reads and introduces five poems from Inquisition Lane: ‘The Biggest Task’, The Insurance Agent’, ‘Into the Air’, ‘Elegy for the Moonman’ and ‘Inquistion Lane’. Filmed by Neil Astley, this video shows part of his reading following an interview with Maitreyabandhu at the Adisthana Retreat Centre, Coddington, part of Ledbury Poetry Festival on 6 July 2016.

 

USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or Bookshop.org

  

BOOKS BY Matthew Sweeney

Horse Music

Matthew Sweeney

Horse Music

Publication Date : 21 Feb 2013

Read More   amazon.co.uk
Inquisition Lane

Matthew Sweeney

Inquisition Lane

Publication Date : 22 Oct 2015

Read More   amazon.co.uk
My Life as a Painter

Matthew Sweeney

My Life as a Painter

Publication Date : 26 Apr 2018

Read More   amazon.co.uk

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