Page Count: 114
Publication Date: Sunday, June 20, 2010
Cover Artwork: Ray Glasheen. Cover Photograph: Constance Markievicz (1868-1927)
About this Book
Where's Katie? seeks out Cathleen Ní Houlihan to come and dust herself down and be reborn full of spirited vigour and life. This collection is a powerful contrast between brief glimpses of the beauty in the world and the stark reality of how life really is. The music stays in our consciousness and leaves a haunting remembrance for the reader.
We see old Katie begging for an Irish revival but certain of her own end;
I walk the shutdown railway lines
and pile up sleepers.
Sniff lines of crystal up my septum sides.
Indignant runts splashed from my loins
lie incapable of understanding.
This debut collection journeys the angst of a child, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a lover, to questioning what Our Very Own Republic really brought us. Sometimes the poems wryly observe the happenings around them, from a tongue and cheek look at Galway life in Urban Myths and the Galway Girl to rural events where the poet feels isolated and unaccepted for drinking "whiskey with ice only", to the deeply personal poems where we are invited into a dark murky world of hurt, shame and fear. As things rapidly change in the personal life of this young poet, heroes from the past are longed for to cultivate a renaissance and to allow escapism from the hurt caused by the state and the lack of passion she sees around her. A brave and honest collection of love, empathy and searching for Katie!
Elaine Feeney was born in Galway in 1979. She studied English and History at University College Galway and completed post graduate study in University College Cork and University of Limerick. She has been writing since her early teens. In 2006 she won the North Beach Nights Grand Slam and in 2008 won the Cuirt Festival's Poetry Grand Slam. She is a keen page and performance writer. Elaine has performed at many venues including The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Electric Picnic, The Vilenica Festival and The CÃºirt International Literature Festival. She was the chosen writer on a One Sheet collaboration in 2010 with an artist and a graphic designer and this work is currently on exhibit across Dublin. Her work has been translated into Slovene. Elaine lives in Athenry with her partner Ray, and sons, Jack and Finn.
Read a sample from this book
Profile: Elaine Feeney: one of Ireland’s growing band of young political poets
Review: After the Revolution by Kevin Higgins, The Galway Advertiser, August 05, 2010.
If Rita Ann Higgins is to have a successor, it has to be Elaine Feeney. I first got to know Feeney's poetry back in 2006 in the lead up to her being a featured reader at the January 2007 Over The Edge: Open Reading.
Her poems are full of dissatisfied idealism which refuses to accept that things have to be as bad as they are. In poem after poem her wit makes her anger palatable for the reader. My own personal favourite is 'Urban Myths and the Galway Girl', a performance poetry masterpiece. 'War March' is a fine anti-war poem, which transcend the clichés. From its great pop art cover, on which Constance Markievicz brandishes a gun, to its last line, Where's Katie? is a joy.
Review: 'Where's Katie?' reviewed by Alan Garvey for the Gloom Cupboard website/journal
November 14, 2010
I'm not going to take the easy way out and liken Elaine Feeney to Rita Ann Higgins, they're both from Galway with an affinity for those who don’t often make the front pages, and that's almost it as far as likenesses go. I'm not going to trumpet one over the other, for that does an injustice to both. I'm not going to say that Feeney's work has a cosmopolitanism that's lacking in Higgins's early work, just because Feeney went to Slovenia as a result of winning the National Slam Championships - that sort of opportunity wasn't there for poets in the 80s. But what I will say is that there's no room for self-congratulation in either poet's work, regardless of their concerns. What really binds the two is that they are primarily interested in others.
'Where's Katie?' is a substantive first collection, which gives a poet an excellent opportunity to 'out' all of their early work and leave a clean slate for their second and subsequent collections. It also gives a reader a lot of poetry to read and, being a simple creature, I like to see groupings of themes or subjects within a collection (not necessarily individual sections). 'Where's Katie?' doesn’t have such clear parameters or narratives within a clearly defined over-arching meta-narrative that is clear yet to this reader - there may be one apparent to the poet. I have to admit to being not quite convinced by some of her shorter poems, a poem like 'Marietta' makes me feel like a bear of very little brain - I don't have a clue what it's about, aside from the words in front of me all I can think of are biscuits. Not to dismiss the lyric pieces, a number of which are extremely powerful like 'Juxtaposition', quite startling in its brevity and cleverness, or 'Reflections in January' which is a welcome slap in the face to our complacent lifestyles and inability to assuage or assist in the burdens that others face (similar to poems by Gerry Murphy and Billy Ramsell), specifically, the poet's correspondence with a woman living in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide.
It's in her long poems where I think Feeney does greatest justice to her talent, where she gives herself the space necessary to encompass the wide scope of relationships and complexities that she witnesses. And there are very few poets of whom I would say this. 'War March' is a fine example, where the poet is confronted by those to whom she "chat[s], but they're still suspicious. / I'd never been to Dachau / or Palestine." This is despite the efforts made "Earlier on our history timeline" where she shows the first-years she teaches "panic-fuelled / diamonds swallowed whole in unleavened bread". This internal conflict is preceded in the first stanza by lines such as, "I'm not into hurtling rocks / I march in line with the others", a painful consciousness for the poet as she undoubtedly knows that most people who are not into hurtling rocks but begin marching in line end up throwing rocks. Binary choices don't seem to sit well with Feeney, greyscales are predominant in her palette as lines blur in space and time, "Children skip brightly through coloured anoraks, / trip to the pavement. / Watch the landmines. / Oh no wrong country. Skip away." This willingness to project herself and those closest to her into harm's way may well be one of Feeney's strongest attributes, that of empathy. It's here, where Feeney is more concerned with the ethical rather than the overtly political agit-prop of 'Laying Hens', that she displays a far more interesting facet of poetry.
Review: 'Where's Katie?' reviewed by Colm Keegan on RTE Radio 1's 'Arena' programme, Wed 25th August
Visit the Arena website to listen back to the review by clicking here>> (select 25th August from the Show Archive in the right hand column)