Not Even Laughter
Page Count: 88
Publication Date: Friday, October 30, 2015
Cover Artwork: Detail from Semi-Circular by UK graphic artist and illustrator Simon C. Page. Designed as part of a minimalist geometric series of lithographic prints released in 2010 entitled Futurism: an Odyssey in Continuity.
About this Book
‘Phillip Crymble is a rueful and reluctant lyricist, a poet who assures us “It doesn’t mean that much to me. It doesn’t.” And yet the poems’ economy of utterance and eloquent plainness make clear that it does. It is good finally to have the separate poems in Not Even Laughter brought together all in one place. Crymble has found, seemingly without looking for it, a voice all his own, a burly “FM baritone”—skeptical, attentive, seen-it-all, wry, loving—with accents part Ulster, part Canadian, part “all over.” Read this book with a hangover, and it will bring everything right.’
‘Not Even Laughter is one of the most assured first collections I have read in a long time. The tightly controlled lines, rich with detail, surprise in their unfolding transforming the common-place into something otherworldly and ultimately lead the reader down roads “to places well beyond what’s signed.” A truly fine achievement.’ Gerard Beirne
In his praise of Crymble’s 2007 Lapwing chapbook Wide Boy, Simon Armitage remarked that “Pop culture, punch-lines and poetry find an easy and admirable accommodation here.”
Phillip Crymble’s Not Even Laughter is a dynamic, technically and formally accomplished debut which draws upon the forgotten, discarded and sometimes overlooked as sources for its reverie. One of Crymble’s speakers says “Funny how / the world reveals the makings of our lives”; the same statement could easily summarize how this poet’s dexterous lines, unfolding in assured rhythms and steeped in ideas, reveal new meanings in the everyday; observances of what might be called background noise create music where before there was silence.
-- Comments by the judges who shortlisted "Not Even Laughter" for the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia's JM Abraham Prize
Phillip Crymble was born in Belfast, and emigrated to Canada with his family as a child. He holds two Bachelor's degrees, and in 2002 earned his MFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he went on to teach for a number of years. The recipient of several Canada Council for the Arts Professional Writer’s grants and a finalist in both The Poetry Business and South Tipperary Arts Centre’s annual chapbook competitions, his work has appeared in The North, Magma, The Stinging Fly, Iota, Oxford Poetry, Causeway, Cúirt Annual, Succour, Abridged, Crannóg, The Moth, Revival, Frogmore Papers, Burning Bush 2, Poetry Ireland Review, The Salt Anthology of New Writing, and numerous other publications worldwide. In 2007 he published a short collection with Lapwing and was selected to read in Poetry Ireland’s annual “Introductions” series. Phillip now lives with his wife and son in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where he divides his time between serving as a poetry editor for The Fiddlehead, and pursuing a PhD in American Literature at UNB. Crymble was the winner of Puritan Magazine's Thomas Morton Prize in 2017.
Interview: Phillip Crymble interviewed by Gerard Beirne for The Honest Ulsterman:
Although Phillip spent the early years of his life in Belfast, moving to Canada when he was eleven, and took a gap year in County Down in 1995 (a couple of years before I left for Canada), we didn’t meet in person until we both ended up living in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I moved there as Writer-in-Residence in 2008 and stayed on teaching part-time in the English Department. Phillip arrived in 2010 and began his PhD at UNB a few years later. Poetry being the curious business it is, however, we had encountered one another on the pages of Poetry Ireland Review in (our own gap year so to speak) 2009 - alongside, coincidentally, the then current writer-in-residence at UNB, Patricia Young! Eventually of course we met up in person and many times thereafter: corridors, offices, readings, parties, festivals, as fellow editors at The Fiddlehead magazine, bookshops, corner stores. A pleasure therefore to interview here this very fine poet and, apparently, “Honest Ulsterman”.
Gerard Beirne: First off, Phillip, let me congratulate you on the wonderful success of your recent collection of poetry – nominated for both the New Brunswick Book Award for Poetry and the J.M. Abraham Poetry Award in Atlantic Canada. A tremendous achievement.
Although living in Canada, you have published widely in Ireland and indeed have a strong Belfast connection, can you tell me more about that?
Phillip Crymble: Thanks so much Gerry. And many congratulations on your own recent nomination for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Receiving recognition here in the Maritime provinces means a lot, as I’ve come to think of the region (Fredericton, in particular) as an adoptive home. And the fact that Not Even Laughter was a finalist for both The New Brunswick Book Award and the Abraham has really made me feel welcomed.
I feel very connected to Belfast, as my family are of French Huguenot descent, and have lived in Ulster since the time it was a plantation. My granda was a tenter at Ewart’s, where he met my granny, who operated a loom. My uncles were skilled tradesmen who cut their teeth at Mackie’s foundry, and my father apprenticed as an electrician in the merchant navy. We moved to Canada when I was eleven and settled in Milton, Ontario, but I always feel the pull to return to Ireland, and have travelled back many times. In 1995 I spent a gap year between university degrees living on The Parade in Donaghadee where I first attempted writing poems, and in 1999 my wife and I spent our honeymoon in County Kerry.
Despite my recent success in the Canadian market, it was always important to me that I debut as an Ulster poet, which is why I worked so diligently to have my poems published in Irish and UK literary journals from the start. In 2007, after years of hard graft, I was invited to Dublin to participate in the Poetry Ireland Introductions series, an event that coincided with the publication of my Lapwing chapbook Wide Boy. Since then, I have continued to send work to magazines and journals in the UK and Ireland, and I’ve even managed to place my poems in some of the bigger ones like Poetry Ireland Review, Magma, and The North. I also had a poem included in the 2013 Salt Anthology of New Writing and just recently, “Onions,” from Not Even Laughter, was selected to appear in The Forward Book of Poetry 2017.
GB: Apart from Ireland, you have lived quite a nomadic life, based now in the Maritimes but having lived in Ontario, Michigan and Zambia – what role does place play in your writing and how does it impact upon the notion of identity?
PC: In her analysis of my poem “Brogue” in Sabotage Review, Claire Trévien remarked that the.... read the full interview here>>>