Aoife Lyall reviews, interviews & poem features
'Aoife Lyall’s Mother, Nature is a beautiful and moving collection – a fine debut.' – Michael Longley
Inverness-based Irish poet Aoife Lyall's debut collection was published by Bloodaxe on 25 February 2021. The poems of Mother, Nature follow the poet’s own experience of motherhood, from the trauma of pregnancy loss, to the overwhelming joy of a healthy birth. Aoife launched the collection on 23 February at a joint livestreamed event hosted by Bloodaxe - see video below.
Aoife Lyall was shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Awards in 2018 and 2016. She was awarded an Emerging Scottish Writer residency by Cove Park in 2020, and took her week-long residency in July 2021.
Books for Breakfast podcast, Thursday 8 July 2021
An interview with Aoife Lyall featured on the Books for Breakfast podcast hosted by Irish poets Peter Sirr and Enda Wyley on 8 July. Aoife was talking to Enda about her debut collection Mother, Nature. She was also invited to speak about a book of her choosing for the Toaster Challenge, and recommended Sara Baume’s A Line Made By Walking (Tramp Press).
‘Aoife Lyall’s debut Mother, Nature was published this year by Bloodaxe Books, and we’re really delighted to have Aoife here at the breakfast table to talk about this intimate book of poems, which celebrates the overwhelming joy of birth and parenthood, but also the devastation of miscarriage, a heart-rending subject which in this book is tackled with great honesty, imagination and tenderness.’ – Enda Wyley, Books for Breakfast podcast
'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 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
Mother, Nature was reviewed in the Irish Times of 10 April 2021.
'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
The review is available in full by subscription here.
Mother, Nature was reviewed by Claire Hennessy in the Irish Examiner's Weekend magazine as part of a feature on debuts by Irish women writers ahead of International Women's Day.
'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
Read the full feature here.
Tuesday 23 February 2021, joint launch event with Fleur Adcock, Tiffany Atkinson and Susan Wicks
Livestreamed event launching four new collections by Bloodaxe poets, all of whom were publishing new collections in February 2021. Aoife Lyall read third in each set (she is introduced by Editor Neil Astley at 19:40). The readings were followed by a very engaging discussion and Q&A with the online audience.
‘The Wanderers’: a film poem by Ted Fisher after a poem by Aoife Lyall
The cover photo for 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.' 'The Wanderers' is included in Mother, Nature.
Aoife Lyall's poems ‘Acrania’ and ‘Hermit Crab’ were shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Awards in 2018 - both are now included in her debut collection. A recording of Aoife reading ‘Hermit Crab’ is on the title page for Mother, Nature (click on ‘related audio’); the poems were featured in The Irish Times of 28 January 2017 - read them here.
[06 March 2021]