A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year 2021
A Sunday Independent (Ireland) Book of the Year 2021
A Masterclass in transforming the materiality of life into poems that are both funny and profound — Times Literary Supplement
Evans will not give in to easy effects or even a singing line. It is all crosstalk, undertone, interruption, pure hilarity, like someone telling a story, like someone thinking. And somehow out of what feels like raw life comes a register that is often luminous….At page 100 we have been engaged by a rich sensibility, and a poet with an astonishing technical confidence who know how to turn a poem or leave a reader unsure where the emotion is coming from. Feeling in these poems is subtly placed and managed. It is hard to see what more Evans can do with the fifty pages. The answer is Mountainy Men, a bravura piece, filled with incident, tension, verbal excitement…Slowly a poem that seems animated by random thoughts and images, takes on a strange, concentrated power; the lines begin to feel like pure style, the narrative voice holding and wielding the hidden energies which Martina Evans consolidates, and then releases with such energy and confidence and verve. — Colm Tóibín, Poetry Ireland Review
American Mules by Martina Evans is a glorious collection of poems, two books within one, an astonishment of riches. How she melds narrative audacity with sharp insight and juicy lyricism is so memorable. It’s a book that gets into your heart. These poems echo and shimmer. I’ll be looking forward to returning to this wonderful volume at a slower summertime pace. — Joseph O’Connor, Irish Times
Martina Evans’s American Mules, a scintillating poetry collection from a unique, deeply observant, beautifully compassionate consciousness which creates a fully realised world of its own. — Catriona Crowe, Irish Times
‘Martina Evans keeps the reader in close and constant orbit…It gave me immense pleasure to read an Irish poet whose syntax and diction estranged (in the best way) the American English poetry I read all the time, and offered such musical and witty reward.’ Megan Fernandes
Striking powers of social observation… every single adjective attentively exact… Without straining for effect, she mixes pity with horror – and a repeated theme of fallibility. Evans’s great gift, though, is for storytelling combined with a music that says to the reader or listener, these things are connected – here’s how.
Martina Evans is that rarest of rara avis, a poet whose work is at once serious and authentically enjoyable. Evans is working now with more brio and fearlessness than ever before. American Mules is a book of splendours and will surely count among her very best.
Martina Evans’ poems are compressed stories, if not entire novels, in all but their word counts… she is the least abstract, least generalising of poets.
Michael Glover, The Tablet