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Silent Music
February 2011

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The Hidden World of Poetry - Unravelling Celtic Mythology in Contemporary Irish Poetry
October 2013

The Art of Dying

Adam Wyeth

ISBN: 978-1-910669-59-4

Page Count: 70

Publication Date: Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Cover Artwork: Fly dear © Nuvolanevicata |

About this Book

The moon is in the wind
and the wind is in the bough 
and the bough is in the door 
that our father leaves open. 

From mountain pass to storm-tossed seashore, from Barcelona to the Drakensberg, these new poems by Adam Wyeth feature journeys both witty and surreal.  There is much that is busy transforming here, from kitchen to ice-rink; rock to hatching egg.  In the richly imagined Talking Tree Alphabet, a birch tree becomes Marilyn Monroe holding down her skirt, while the blackthorn is a ‘ravaged whore’. At the heart of the collection, the still point around which the energies flow, is a boy’s relationship with his father, the absurd indignity of death, and the ceaseless unfolding of the generations: ‘An ancient vellum/ where the next life is written’. Language, the raw material of the poet who shapes and makes sense of the world, is celebrated without forgetting the humble source of it all, Yeats’s foul rag and bone shop, or ‘thorns/that draw blood and score the heart completely’ (from ‘Gorse’). Dancing on the edge of civilization, preferring the energizing potential of dream and myth, Wyeth’s is a refreshing new voice on the Irish poetry scene.

Katie Donovan

‘Adam Wyeth’s work is fresh and intriguing, alive with imaginative riffs, grave humour and more besides – it rewards close attention.’ 

Derek Mahon

‘Wyeth is a beachcomber on the edge of his own infinities, where fact, legend and anecdote flow together.’ 
Harry Clifton

‘The Art of Dying is a beautifully crafted performance by a poet who brings a cold, thoughtful eye to the eternal themes. The poems are alive with wit, long contemplation, and verbal energy.’ 
Michael O’Loughlin

‘Wyeth is a poet of ideas exquisitely wrought and swarming, demanding a reader awake to complexity on a subtle scale.’ 
Ailbhe Darcy, The Stinging Fly

‘Strong and moving...’ 
The Independent

‘Fresh and imaginative...’ 
The Irish times

Author Biography

Adam Wyeth lives in Dublin. His critically acclaimed collection, Silent Music, was Highly Commended by the Forward Poetry Prize. His poetry has won and been commended in many international competitions, including The Bridport Poetry Prize, The Arvon Poetry Prize and The Ballymaloe Poetry Prize. His work appears in several anthologies including The Forward Prize Anthology (2012 Faber), The Best of Irish Poetry (Southword 2010) and The Arvon 25th Anniversary Anthology. In 2016, he was selected as a Poetry Ireland Review Rising Generation poet. Adam’s second book The Hidden World of Poetry: Unravelling Celtic Mythology in Contemporary Irish Poetry was published by Salmon in 2013. The book contains poems from Ireland’s leading poets followed by sharp essays that unpack each poem and explore its Celtic mythological references. Adam has also had several plays produced in Ireland and Germany including Hang Up, produced by Broken Crow (2013), which was adapted into a film in 2014 and premiered at Cork’s International Film Festival. It was also staged in 2015 in Berlin as part of ‘An Evening of Adam Wyeth’ at Theaterforum Kreuzberg. Adam runs online Creative Writing workshops and editing programmes at and

Read a sample from this book

Girl with a Bag in Barcelona

What was in the bag of the girl who had 
just arrived in Barcelona? She sat down 
on a bench and unfolded a piece of paper 
that contained the address of her final destination. 

At the moment of her taking out a cigarette 
and assisting a passer-by with a light, 
another man leaned over and placed his hand 
on her bag, taking it away so simply, 

I assumed he was a friend playing a joke, 
until he broke into a bolt and the passer-by 
turned cold as he ran after his accomplice, 
flicking the cigarette over his shoulder 

that sparked a trail before going out. 
By the time I’d shot up and shouted, Thieves! – 
they were halfway across Plaça de Catalunya  
disappearing among the throng on La Rambla. 

The girl didn’t move and went on smoking 
like nothing had happened, as if she didn’t care, 
taking long draws on her cigarette. 
Perhaps there was nothing of value in the bag: 

a magazine, toothbrush, tampons, dirty underwear.
On the other hand, perhaps her stillness was a sign 
that there were items of overwhelming cost: 
legal documents, her great grandmother’s watch, 

a diamond ring, a signed copy of Ulysses, first edition. 
‘Should I call the police?’ I asked, sitting back down. 
She gave a shrug that showed the futility of my question.
She seemed to have complete self-control, 

I thought she might be a pupil of the mysterious 
Tibetan school who acquire material possessions 
only so they can let them go: to learn the art 
of dying, slipping away quietly between 

thoughts when no one is looking. The thieves 
by now had been swallowed into the underbelly 
of Barri Gòtic; prising open their booty 
like ravens scrapping over road kill. 

The bag, the cigarette, the moment, 
snatched like a loose thought tossed to one side. 
While high above the muggy streets, behind 
the velvet-curtained sky, a satellite spun out of orbit. 

The World

My mother’s kitchen was a sea of blue cupboards 
and shiny surfaces, the door was always closed 
or just ajar. Sometimes I’d peep in and spot her 
dusting packets on shelves, or mopping the floor 
smooth as an ice rink. A pot of wilting thyme 

sat dying of thirst on the window sill, while outside 
a bare hedge ringed our home, fortifying us 
from next door.  When I asked for water she’d startle 
out of her cleaning waltz, spin on the spot, then 
take a polished glass from the highest cupboard 

and dash to the taps. I’d catch her twisted image 
bending in its chrome arm, letting the gush of water 
run cold before filling the glass. I’d stand at the door 
wanting to break through its icy exterior – the sea 
of glass – but knew if I did the world would shatter.


The old oak is our father
coming home late at night, 
turning his key in the door,
leaving it off the latch.

The leaves are still falling.
I hear his slippered footsteps
shuffle on the stairs, scuff 
along boards. He stifles 

a cough opening my door 
and releases the catch 
from the window, taking 
my breath as the curtains 

mushroom. A pattern 
of webbed branches frames 
the moon. His great shadow 
bows low and creaks 

down the years, pressing his 
whiskered cheeks to my brow, 
whispering good night. 
The old oak swishes and moans, 

low mutterings meander 
through the house. The wind 
brushes my face, the sound 
of leaves patting the pane. 

The moon is in the wind
and the wind is in the bough 
and the bough is in the door 
that our father leaves open. 

All poems © Copyright Adam Wyeth 2016


Review: World Literature Today, Nov/Dec 2017

Like a child’s magnifying glass, the eyes of Dublin poet Adam Wyeth brim the world over with rich detail in this adventurous collection of poems. The wide-roaming scenes that the reader rushes through in The Art of Dying find humour in surprising places and profundity in the simplest, imbuing the natural, the exotic, and the domestic with equal measures of myth.

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