Aoife Lyall’s The Day Before beautifully captures the ordinary moments in life that crystallise in the face of crisis and threat. Focusing on the earliest weeks and months of the pandemic, these intimate and meticulous poems mark the lived experience of someone who must navigate a world she no longer understands, exploring first steps and last breaths, milestones, millstones, emigration, fly-tipping and the entire world to be found in the space behind the front door.
Tender, challenging, and historically significant, The Day Before asks what it means when home is the one place you cannot leave, and the one place you cannot go.
The Day Before is Aoife Lyall’s second collection, following her widely praised debut, Mother, Nature, which was shortlisted for the Scottish First Book Award in Scotland's National Book Awards in 2021
'There are poems in this collection that knocked me clean to the ground, as others offered me a warm hand up and others still, which stroked my backbone as I sobbed. The subject is crucial, but it's the beauty of the poems which holds it all together. “By law she carries you” is a line that I will never get out of my skin.' – Hollie McNish on Mother, Nature
'Aoife Lyall’s Mother, Nature is a beautiful and moving collection – a fine debut.' – Michael Longley
'Aoife Lyall’s debut, Mother, Nature, explores pregnancy, loss, motherhood, hospitals and grief in moving lyric poems that amount to an extended sequence – the thematic resonance of the collection is detailed, and shows a thoroughness in its consideration of small moments of private grief... One of Lyall's most effective techniques is the exploration of paradox, the volta-like turning of the lyric and its imagery, which makes the best poems here particularly devastating in their contained forms.' – Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times
'Mother, Nature by Aoife Lyall was an incredibly powerful book. It was extremely moving to read it. I came to this not really knowing quite what to expect, but I found myself blown away by the visceral nature of the writing. It's an extremely moving and at times deeply upsetting book in the way it treats its subject matter, which deals with loss, remembrance, regret and grief. These are all extremely powerful themes and I think that Aoife presents them in a way that is both powerful, but also accessible.' – Vincent Lal, Co-Judge, Scottish First Book Award
‘Aoife Lyall is a poet whose first collection demonstrates such clarity of vision and assurance of language that one wonders how readers coped without Mother, Nature before it came along. It ought, really, to be available on the NHS, accessible at any stage of pregnancy, parenthood, or grief… Lyall is a generous, talented poet, and this first collection makes clear her skill and promise.’ – Alice Tarbuck, Northwords Now
‘Aoife Lyall’s collection Mother, Nature arrives with a magisterial maturity that belies its status as a first book-length offering… A remarkable debut from a strong talent.’ - Éamon Mag Uidhir, Dublin Review of Books
‘This collection does important work to break silences and stigma, and delves into motherhood with depth, complexity and nuance.’ – Julie Morrissy, Poetry Ireland Review, on Mother, Nature
'The capacity of language to convey the intensity of the most human moments is explored with an unusual combination of directness and gentleness in Aoife Lyall’s startling debut, Mother, Nature. An intimate look at the pain of miscarriage and loss, bolstered by the blessedness of healthy pregnancy, this debut is assured and has the strength to be vulnerable... This is a strong first collection, rich as a newborn with promise.' - Elizabeth Ridout, Agenda
'Aoife Lyall’s Mother, Nature reimagines work by Heaney and Dickinson with her new-mother eyes, in a collection that is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. After a miscarriage, she addresses her lost child: “the house you never lived in / is overwhelmed by all the people who didn’t know to come.”' – Claire Hennessy, Irish Examiner
‘Here’s a debut collection with a voice that is very much its own, and a way of writing that is subtly daring. These poems are staggeringly tender. They are open, vulnerable and emotionally raw – and with this, they are poetically precise, exactly crafted gems. These are poems that want to give to the reader – my advice is to open this book and let them.’ – Niall Campbell on Mother, Nature
‘In Aoife Lyall's beautiful, intimate debut collection, poignant and heart-rending personal experience nestles beside profound love and hard-earned wisdom.' – Helen Sedgwick on Mother, Nature
'This astonishing and compelling collection begins and ends in silence. But in between we are led through the minutiae of personal tragedy, with all its disbelief and numb acceptance, towards the challenges and rejoicings of motherhood and beyond. Lyall’s true skill is in refusing to allow us to be innocent bystanders loitering on the grass verges of her narratives; she draws us into every poem as material witnesses and insists we travel with her so that her loss becomes our loss and her joy ultimately becomes our own.' – John Glenday on Mother, Nature
Aoife Lyall: Torch: a film poem
Torch: a film poem was written and read by Aoife Lyall, directed by Luke Morgan with music by Jake Morgan, produced with funding from The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. The poem is included in The Day Before.
‘The Wanderers’: a film poem by Ted Fisher after a poem by Aoife Lyall
The cover picture of Mother, Nature is a still from The Wanderers (2018), a film poem directed and produced by Ted Fisher in collaboration with Magma and the University of Edinburgh. Aoife Lyall writes: ‘The most significant thing I learned was that the poem isn’t so much about welcoming my daughter into my life, as allowing myself to finally call Inverness home. I lived here for almost six years before she was born, and spent much of that comparing my life here to the life I had in Dublin. Walking the poem with Ted I came to realise it encapsulated what I had been missing – the accumulation of memories, moments, and experiences that layer themselves into the familiar.'
Aoife Lyall reads 'Month's Mind'
Aoife Lyall reads her poem 'Month's Mind' from Mother, Nature. She made this video at home in Scotland during lockdown in 2020.
Aoife Lyall reads 'Silt'
Aoife Lyall reads her poem 'Silt' from Mother, Nature.
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