ASHBERY SIGHTINGS: "READING JOHN ASHBERY IN COSTA COFFEE, CARLOW" (FROM THE "LEINSTER LEADER")

John Ashbery makes an appearance via a new Swedish-Engligh bilingual book of poems, as reported in Irish newspaper the Leinster Leider:

Kildare man launches new book of poetry

DESCRIBED AS ENTERING THE SURREAL SURROUNDINGS OF A REAL AND IMAGINED CARLOW WHERE HE LIVES AND WORKS

By Conor McHugh

12 Mar 2019

Derek Coyle from Kill

Derek Coyle from Kill

Kill man Dr Derek Coyle will launch a book of his original poems, ‘Reading John Ashbery in Costa Coffee, Carlow’, at Carlow College, St Patrick’s on Wednesday, April 10 at 7.30 in Cobden Hall.

A former student of Naas CBS and Maynooth University, Dr Coyle lectures in English Literature and Creative Writing at Carlow College, St Patrick’s.

The book is a dual language text consisting of original poems in English with their Swedish translation. Peter Nyberg has translated the poems into Swedish, and Magnus Grehn Förlag is the publisher. The President of Carlow College, St Patrick’s, Fr Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh, will host the evening and the writer Peter Murphy will launch the book.

Once you open the pages of this intriguing collection, you enter the surreal surroundings of a real and imagined Carlow. Here Mozart and Beethoven drink pints in Tully’s bar.  And a busy and preoccupied Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol work hard in New York’s legendary Chelsea Hotel, but manage to miss the Tiger of Annam who travels past them and on through the tunnels of time to end up in Carlow.

Whilst there, he strolls past Woodie’s on his way to the Barrow in a continuing search for a true north. And in this Carlow you will find the Coyle’s fellow Kildare man Christy Moore jamming outside the local Tesco with three musicians from a Picasso painting, and dressed like Ziggy Stardust, in an impromptu protest against the invasive nature of contemporary capitalism.

Carlow is not the only location. You also encounter Tranås, a town very similar in style and character to Carlow, but buried in the heartland of Sweden’s lake and forest country, halfway between Malmo and Stockholm on the train line. In this Tranås, you will encounter the legendary Swedish poet Magnus Larsson who wrote about lonely whales and unlucky jockeys in poems that were the talk of literary society across Europe and beyond (even outer space).

Where life in this Swedish town shares similarities with life in rural Ireland in the 60s, 70s, and even the 80s. Here the shops close on Sundays, and fathers and sons spend their time fishing by the lakes, admiring the exploits of Ove Fundin, the world Speedway Champion, immortalized atop a bronze motorbike in a statue at the centre of the town.

In poems of touching delicacy, Coyle evokes a very human world of suffering, injustice and tragedy. ‘The Shoulder’ recalls a tender moment shared between the German speaking Czech writer Franz Kafka and Milena Jesenská, both of whom would die tragically young; he from tuberculosis and she in a Nazi concentration camp.

‘The Charred Boots’ relates in an almost timeless way, the tragic loss of a child in a freak fire, as related by her ghostly voice, as she recounts the impact of this tragedy on her mourning parents.

The collection’s title poem, ‘Reading John Ashbery in Costa Coffee, Carlow’, whilst evoking the humorous presence of James Joyce, Gandhi and John Lennon, ends somewhat surprisingly with a reference to the ongoing Syrian conflict.

While the poems playfully engage with the possibilities opened up by contemporary physics, especially quantum theory, they are humane in a way that is timeless and challenging. Deeply engaged with contemporary reality, these poems constantly surprise, uplift and transform.  

Derek Coyle has published poems in Ireland, Britain, Sweden and the U.S. He has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award, been runner-up in the Bradshaw Prize and he has featured in the Poetry Ireland ‘Poetry Introductions’ series. He represented Ireland at an international literary residency in Tranås in Sweden, as a guest of Kultivera, and he has featured in the International Poetry Festival in Jönköping.

He is a founding member of the Carlow Writers’ Co-Operative.