Alan Gillis – one of the most admired Irish poets of his generation – addresses some of the most pressing concerns of the age: how can we live at the centre of our contemporary paradox, disconnected and hyper-connected as we are?
A poet of thresholds and crossings, Gillis finds his answers in the suburbs and edgelands, at the hesitation before the doorstep or the gate. The Readiness sites itself at the heart of our human contradictions, and explores their meaning. These poems form a series of bad dreams and clear visions that speak to the chaos and fragility of both self and society: the childhood innocence that persists into the resignation of adulthood; the beauty of nature in an age of environmental ruin; the terrible isolation of contemporary life – and the live-streamed, advert-laden over-wiring that springs from its digital commons. It does this with a formal confidence, a dry wit and often astonishing lyricism that marks Gillis as one of the most individual and vital poetic voices now at work.
Fizzing with vernacular and bounding rhythms, yet also precisely lyrical, the poems in The Readiness frequently run away with themselves, attempting to keep up with, and make some sense of, the often digital babble and information overload of our age. . .The Readiness impresses, but more importantly moves and surprises, given Gillis’s ability to combine dry humour with insight, vibrant description with direct address, and contemporary relevance with lasting concerns