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An Introduction to
Long Tongue
by Brendan Kennelly (1982)

Long Tongue

Sample Poems:
Sour Apple Tides (& audio)
The Milkman's Wife
(& audio)
 

This is Anne Hartigan's first collection of poems and it is an intriguing one because of its variety of tone and theme, its enthusiastic readiness to experiment with form, its lively, sensitive use of language, as well as a certain sharp lyricism that indicates an individual view and recording of experience.

Anne Hartigan tells me that "in Ireland long ago, poets were recognized by their extra long tongues" (hence the title of the book). Allowing for the notion that a long tongue is preferable to a dirty one, I would say that the poet Hartigan's tongue, as it works melodiously in the following poems, will be seen and heard by readers to be eloquent, buoyant, independent, cheeky and, for much of the time, refreshingly original.

A striking feature of the book is the way it mingles short poems with long or longish ones. Anne Hartigan is capable of epigrammatic compression as well as a neo-epic expansiveness. (I have seen other work by her which firmly supports this observation.) She is also, as I said, experimental; her experiments, however, suggest a long acquaintance with, and considerable understanding of more traditional forms of writing. This book, therefore, is valuable and interesting not only for itself, for the many singing and witty poems it contains. for its intelligence and humour, but also because the reader instantly recognizes the voice of one who is going to continue to explore new ways of grappling with language, new styles, new techniques. There is nothing staid or complacent or lethargic here; we are in the presence of a writer bent on exploration and discovery. Readers of this book will join with me in wishing Anne Hartigan the best of luck in that uncertain but exciting enterprise.

Brendan Kennelly, 1982.

Drawing from the book cover by the late artist and novelist Jeremy Leland

by
Anne Le Marquand Hartigan.
Beaver Row Press, Dublin.

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