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page15_1FACING THE PUBLIC (Anvil Press 2009)

T.L.S Book of the Year 2009

Winner of the 2011 Piero Ciampi International Poetry Prize.

Martina Evans’s poems are a miracle, for the way they combine total clarity with profundity: the way the apparently innocent and observant humour of their narrative surface covers a compassion and understanding that are often heartbreaking and heartbroken. Tragedy and cheerfulness are inextricable here. `Facing the Public’ is my book of the year. – Bernard O’Donoghue

Martina Evan’s poetry collections are a unique Irish aviary, a poet’s birdlife that sings above the obvious political drama. Her imagination is unique, darting, flitting, resonating with personal and poetic voices. Alone among her generation, she has tried to recover a lost psychological atmosphere; she has tried to restore Ireland as a remembered Arcady of mothers and daughters, of aunts and alcoholics. She is at once emotional and shrewd: her modern outlook is well camouflaged from the conservative and provincial vigilantes who roam the Irish poetic territory. Hidden behind the rich lace-curtain of her personal charm, her existentialism sings. – Thomas McCarthy

‘A deceptively casual and enjoyable collection.’ – The Irish Times

These poems are when Evans is at her best. Distinct voices give the feel of locals whispering to each other in the local bars; she creates a sharpened sense of a local community in Ireland during the battle for independence. The intrinsically Irish feel to these poems does not alienate and Evans writes with wit and a lightness of touch that works well in a collection showing how the present stems from the past and the past always looks to the present.’
- Daisy Bowie-Sell, Ambit

Available from Anvil Press and Amazon

 

OhBartCoverOH BART Rack Press January 2012)

Rack Press ever impresses, picking up emerging and fledged poets and letting the taut form of a pamphlet test them into experiment, close-argued arrangement and sequence, as here in these limited editions.  Martina Evans…free in subject and tone, as here in poems that range and dance over religion and education, The Simpsons and The Godfather. “Prayer, the last refuge of a scoundrel”, she quotes Lisa Simpson… fabulously elastic, strongly voiced lines. Bernard O’Donoghue, right as ever: “total clarity with profundity”, and let me add how hilarious Evans can be.’ – David Morley, Poetry Review Autumn 2012

page12_1CAN DENTISTS BE TRUSTED (Anvil Press 2004)

‘Evans’s Irish childhood and education in the 1960s is vividly represented…the poems take up the themes in funny and rather disturbing precise accounts of her parents, their sweet shop, recalcitrant cats, school and the monologues of Catholic mothers. These look like easy anecdotal poems but they bite. And those dentists – if they are private/they may well want all your teeth…[with you] laid out on the chair/like a corpse/ with a coin in its mouth/travelling/towards the underworld.’
- Alan Brownjohn, The Sunday Times

Although I have a cat, I don’t particularly like cat poems. I was all the more surprised, therefore, to find I had fallen in love with Eileen Murphy. Eileen is (or was) Martina Evans’ cat and she is celebrated in at least two of the excellent poems in this volume. In fact, she is the star of the show so far as I am concerned. At the centre of the book sits its longest poem – ‘The Rabach’. This is a stirring narrative of murder and mayhem.I like the detail (“grasshoppers gritted / among the purple loosestrife”, wild bitter apples / snow, then snowdrops”) and I love the story. Evans is very good at character and detail.Mr Shinkwin, the dentist, for example, his eyes “blazing blue/as the Atlantic ocean”, and Paddy from Dingle ‘his lips moving repeatedly,/up to his hilt/ in communications /with another world”. The precise sensual focus often shocked me into unexpected empathy: “Golden brown tea as good as I drank/out of pink and white cups/in the Convent of Mercy thirty years ago”. I was disarmed by the bitter-sweet, unmistakeable taste of the past, even though it was a past I didn’t share. Good writing can do that.’ – Helena Nelson Ambit

Available from Anvil Press and Amazon

page11_1ALL ALCOHOLICS ARE CHARMERS (Anvil Press 1998)

Evans’s great skill is in knowing how much to put into a poem. She has a talent for selecting only the most resonant memories, for not over-icing the cake of sentiment…All Alcoholics are Charmers turns out to be rich in splendidly concise evocations of what it feels like to be Irish in England, in all its quiddity, including the encounters with new cultures on your doorstep…Above all, Evans puts the right words in the right order, a dictum whose simple phrasing embodies its demands. – Michael Dugan in PN Review

She evokes the pains, fantasies and preoccupations of an Irish Catholic  childhood and youth, with an Irish tongue for a story and Irish humour, but uses the theme to show what it’s like to be alive…The poems are little dramas and monologues that go straight to the grudges, disappointments, root confusions and hang-ups, showing the depths in trivial things and the trivial in the deep. She writes clean narratives, with nothing but factual adjectives, and all the details part of someone’s experience, making the book a pleasure to read and recommend.’ – Herbert Lomas, Ambit

Available from Anvil Press and Amazon

page16_1THE INISCARRA BAR AND CYCLE REST (Rockingham Press 1995)

‘Evans has immediate appeal, not being afraid to take risks, using throwaway lines with zany overtones…Narrative flows, humorous, outspoken, carrying the sting along with it…This is no inexperienced voice and I look forward to hearing more of her.’ Leland Bardwell, Poetry Ireland Review