For All We Know

Ciaran Carson, Author
Ciaran Carson, Author . Wake Forest Univ $12.95 (108p) ISBN 978-1-930630-38-3
Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Hardcover - 108 pages - 978-1-930630-39-0
Hardcover - 120 pages - 978-1-85235-440-4
Hardcover - 120 pages - 978-1-85235-439-8
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A contemporary of Paul Muldoon, Carson is one of the most well-known poets of his generation in the U.K. He is too little known here, though this ambitious new book may change that. Borrowing its structure in part from the repetitions and variations of the musical fugue, this collection enacts the ways the past, present and future are interwoven, as objects in hand—a watch, a pen, a dress—evoke memories of people and places—Paris, Berlin, Dresden—of the past. The poems—sets of long-lined couplets divided into two sections, so that each poem has a twin with the same title, for a total of 75 poems—follow a pair of lovers, one from Paris, the other from Northern Ireland, whose romance comes to a tragic end, having passed through the Irish Troubles (“We were sequestered in The Crown after the explosion”) and intrigues elsewhere in Europe (“You gave me to understand in a manner of speaking/ that you'd some longstanding unfinished business in Nevers”). As the voices in the poems—and the poems themselves—talk to each other, Carson dissolves the borders between one time and another, between the personal and the historical, seeking and evading the truth always with the awareness that “The lie is memorized, the truth is remembered.” (Apr.)

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