Vinegar Hill: Poems

Colm Tóibín. Beacon Hill, $22.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0653-5

Novelist Tóibín (The Magician) delivers a sparkling debut collection shaped by mist and nostalgia, and rendered with precise imagery and dark humor. The opener, "September," closes, " 'Someone told me you were dead.' " Both his short and extended poems include reportage ("Dublin: Saturday, May 23, 2015" takes place on the day same-sex marriage is voted in), a fascination with the small details in paintings (in "Small Wonder," a glass bowl in Veronese's "Annunciation" is "close to not being there") and bleak weather that seems as much internal as external (in "The Marl Hole" the dark is "like the night air itself,/ Released from the prison of outside,/ Tender, persistent, nosing around"). In "Eve," Tóibín's gifts as a novelist shine through as Eve is seen looking back at God and her time in the garden, "when the night sky/ Hardens over us." Would Eve like to return to paradise again? "No, but I would like yesterday to come/ Again, wash itself over us,/ Fondle us with its shredded beauty." These exact and lyrical poems are full of striking moments that will reward fans of Tóibín's fiction and garner new admirers. (Apr.)