By Doireann Ní Ghríofa
Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s new bilingual collection, Lies, draws on her three Irish-language collections to date, Résheoid (2011); Dúlasair (2012) and Oighear (2017), and presents these Irish poems alongside Ní Ghríofa’s own English translations.
Lies is a collection which deftly navigates the truth and the falsehoods which poetry and life can tell. The collection spans generations, from the personal; the poet’s grandmother and her own children, to the historical; Shackleton and the Aztecs. And from tinfoil to a mother’s grief to the Titanic, there is no subject too ambitious or too inconsequential for Ní Ghríofa’s stare.
Her use of language throughout is delicate and musical, while also being knife-sharp and humorous – turns of phrase can be both gut-,punching and witty at once. We get the sense of a poet equally at home in both languages, and though this is a book full of thrilling surprises, there is a natural rhythm and an internal rhyme in these poems that lets each word leap from the tongue.
To write a collection as accomplished as this in one language would be an enormous achievement, but to write it in two proves Ní Ghíofa to be one of the most outstanding poets of our time. Lies is a collection to get lost in, to fall in love with, a book that reveals, again and again, the shifting, enigmatic power of language.
Words: Alice Kinsella