Lorraine Carey is a poet and artist from Donegal. Her work’s widely anthologised and published in Poetry Ireland Review, Abridged, The Ogham Stone, Orbis, Prole, Smithereens, Porridge, The Honest Ulsterman, The Stony Thursday Book and on Poethead among others. She has performed at Over The Edge, Of Mouth, North West Words, Culture Night and Listowel Writers’ Week. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press).
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I’m reading Christine Dwyer Hickey’s The Cold Eye Of Heaven, John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and Simon Armitage’s Walking Home, A Poet’s Journey –a brilliant, often hilarious account of his wanderings along The Pennine Way. He chose to walk it in reverse, north to south and finished up in the Yorkshire village where he was born. Wondering whether it’s possible to pay his way on the proceeds of his poetry alone, he performs at events arranged in various locations every evening where he passes around a hat for the audience to contribute what they think he was worth. In his own words he described it as ‘256 miles of begging’.
I’m also reading Robert Lowell, Setting The River On Fire – A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character by Kay Redfield Jamison. I attended a workshop in 2019, facilitated by the author (a clinical psychiatrist and writer and expert in the study of mood disorders) It’s a fascinating examination of bipolar illness and connections to creativity. Poetry wise I’m reading Mona Arshi’s Dear Big Gods, Kim Moore’s The Art of Falling and A Man’s House Catches Fire by Tom Sastry, and have recently discovered the brilliant work of Alycia Pirmohamed.
A book you loved reading at a child.
A favourite was A Kestrel For A Knave by Barry Hinesm set in Barnsley, a small mining town in Yorkshire. Billy Caspar is bullied, neglected at home and treated as a failure at school. He discovers a new passion in life when he finds and tames Kes, a young kestrel hawk. It had complex themes, but Hines brought the Yorkshire landscape to life for me, whilst Billy and Kes nurtured one another. This classic had hope, survival and trust at its very heart and birds to me are the ultimate messengers, symbolic of freedom, protection, forgotten landscapes and so much more. I remember wanting my own falcon / kestrel but had to make do with Goldie - my canary. I adored Hilda Boswell’s Treasury of Poetry and everything from Beatrix Potter, who was also an exquisite illustrator and a huge inspiration. I enjoyed Malory Towers and all the Ladybird Classics.The illustrations mesmerised me as much as the stories. The spoof books called Ladybird for Grown Ups are hilarious, pairing classic drawings with new text and have titles like The Hipster, The Zombie Apocalypse, Mindfulness and The Shed.
A book you have given as a gift / recommended to a friend.
Robert Hillman’s The Bookshop of The Broken Hearted remains one of the most beautifully written novels I’ve ever read.
Your favourite anthology.
It’s impossible to pick one. These treasures are always on my desk - Breaking the Skin: Vol. 2: 21st Century Irish Writing - New Irish Poetry, Staying Alive and Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Shine On (Dedalus), a marvellous collection of contemporary Irish poetry and prose in support of those affected by mental ill health.
A book yet-to-be-released which you are looking forward to reading.
Mona Arshi’s debut novel Somebody Loves You. A former human rights lawyer, her debut Small Hands (Liverpool Press) won the Forward Prize in 2015 for best first collection. Her ethereal poems remained with me for a long time after I’d heard her read at The John Hewitt Summer School in Armagh last year. She’s a poet I constantly return to, so I’m really looking forward to this novel.