“In his new book, Along the Flaggy Shore, Carlos Reyes meditates on the presence of the past and the passing of the present in poems which roam the west of Ireland in a kind of modern-day bardic circuit. Every poem is an occasion to halt and take stock of places, people, and events whose rich details are noticed by few and whose stories tremble on the edge of forgetting. Every poem shores images of the local, the small, the intimate against the traumatic storm of history whose grand narratives too often drown out the voices from the backwaters. This book, then, is a proclamation of what it ought to mean to be a “tenant of the world”, of how transience can be embraced without fear or hope, but made luminous in poems whose very existence pass on the words by which the future might truly know us.”
In his tenth volume of poetry, Irish American poet Carlos Reyes returns once again to Ireland, to the townlands of Letterkelly and Cloonanaha in County Clare. These communities have informed much of Reyes’ work, including At the Edge of the Western Wave (2004), and The Keys to the Cottage: Stories from the West of Ireland (2015). For more than forty years Reyes has returned to West Clare to his second home and his second family.
The poems in this collection capture the stark rural life that now has mostly passed. Reyes attempts to gather the remnants of a way of life that was pushed aside and forgotten with the arrival of the “Celtic Tiger.” Sitka spruce has supplanted the peat bog, and the slane rusts in the barn. The iconic haycocks that dotted the countryside are now replaced with huge black bags of sileage.
This book paints a lyrical picture of a world gone. As Yeats’ said, a way of life “all changed, utterly changed.”