This week I enjoyed the launch of Elaine Gaston’s debut poetry collection in Ballycastle, which saw a great crowd turn out to support her and hear some of the poems being read.
Entitled ‘The Lie of the Land’, Elaine’s collection is a beautiful mix of poems rooted in the landscape she grew up in and those she discovered on some of her travels.
They conjure up precise images of particular moments – bringing the reader to another time and place and allowing us a glimpse into life in the glens of North Antrim, on the rugged coastline of Northern Ireland. Even if you think you don’t like poetry, these are poems that are accessible to everyone and are very cleverly put together.
The collection was introduced by Medbh McGuckian, who said Elaine “writes as truthfully and tenderly as Heaney about sorrow, love and the difficulties and joys of developing out from a narrow Ulster experience to embrace the whole world as a home.”
This certainly leaps out at you as you read through the book – the poems are both poignant and humourous, and painful moments – both personal and societal – are dealt with delicately without shying away from what they seek to address.
This is a collection that’s a joy to read and is indeed, easily consumed – which further shows the skill with which it was written. Elaine, who has a theatrical background, also knows most of them off by heart and entertained us at the launch with her fabulously enthusiastic renditions of her work.
It certainly makes me consider my own ‘collection’, recently submitted to the Arts Council – a meagre 16 or so poems that is dwarfed by this collection of, er, 51, but it gives me something to aspire to and I’m still adding to my own work!
We do what we can do in the time that we have, and we appreciate the good work of others when we find it. 🙂