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My Life as a Painter

My Life as a Painter

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Paperback / softback

£9.95

Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781780374147
Published: 26/04/2018
Matthew Sweeney's palette in My Life as a Painter - his twelfth collection - features a wild mix of birds and animals: lizards, snakes, rats, camels, donkeys, feral cats, dogs and owls. One dog transmits telepathic requests for the food he wants, and there's a parrot who speaks as ambassador for the bird world. Sweeney's canvas here is the transhuman: where boundaries between human and non-human can't be fixed, dreams turn into torments, secrets stay hidden, strange communiques remain unclear, and the natural weirdness of his native Donegal verges on the surreal. There are poems ostensibly about art, artists and filmmaking which are as much portraits of the poet and the difficulties of writing poetry. Other poems offer oblique perspectives on religion, warfare, migration and displacement; or go off at a tangent to explore the imaginative possibilities of everything from Michigan's Mullett Lake and the geysers of Iceland to rope-ladders, tin-mines, a giant blue cabbage and an old thrown-out Christmas tree.

Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney (1952-2018) was born in Lifford, Co. Donegal, Ireland. He moved to London in 1973 and studied at the Polytechnic of North London and the University of Freiburg. After living in Berlin and Timisoara for some years, he returned to Ireland and settled in Cork. He died in August 2018 from motor neurone disease. His poetry collections include: A Dream of Maps (1981), A Round House (1983), The Lame Waltzer (1985) from Allison & Busby / Raven Arts Press; Blue Shoes (1989) and Cacti (1992) from Secker & Warburg; The Bridal Suite (1997), A Smell of Fish (2000), Selected Poems (2002), Sanctuary (2004) and Black Moon (2007) from Jonathan Cape; The Night Post: A Selection (Salt, 2010); Horse Music (2013), Inquisition Lane (2015), My Life as a Painter (2018) and Shadow of the Owl (2020) from Bloodaxe; and King of a Rainy Country (2018) from Arc, a book of prose poems set in Paris, and responding to Baudelaire's Le Spleen de Paris. Black Moon was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award. Horse Music won the inaugural Pigott Poetry Prize in association with Listowel Writers' Week, and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Shadow of the Owl is a Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice for Winter 2020. He also published editions of selected poems in Canada (Picnic on Ice, Vehicule Press, 2002) and two translated by Jan Wagner in Germany, Rosa Milch (Berlin Verlag, 2008) and Hund und Mond (Hanser Berlin, 2017). Jan Wagner's German translation of Shadow of the Owl is forthcoming from Hanser Berlin. He won a Cholmondeley Award in 1987 and an Arts Council Writers' Award in 1999. He also published poetry for children, with collections including The Flying Spring Onion (1992), Fatso in the Red Suit (1995) and Up on the Roof: New and Selected Poems (2001). His novels for children include The Snow Vulture (1992) and Fox (2002). He edited The New Faber Book of Children's Poems (2003) and Walter De la Mare: Poems (2006) for Faber; co-edited Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (Faber, 1996) with Jo Shapcott; and co-wrote Writing Poetry (Teach Yourself series, Hodder, 1997) and the comic novel Death Comes for the Poets (Muswell Press, 2012) with John Hartley Williams.

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