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Aibítir Aoise : Alphabet of an Age

Published by Arlen House, 2011. The Alphabet Book is a Polish genre that invites the author to discuss what (s)he has observed during his/her life. Usually written in prose, it has here been adapted to poetic form. Autobiographical sketches and accounts of the famous are often the subject of the genre. Liberties have been taken with this approach, and while people who inspired certain poems are mentioned, the focus is on the poetic aspect of the work. As the genre has been transposed to Irish, it recognises only the eighteen letters traditionally found in that language’s alphabet.

Seánra Polannach, ina dtairgtear cuireadh don údar a bhfuil tugtha faoi deara i rith a s(h)aoil aige/aici a phlé, is ea an Leabhar Aibítre. Scríofa go hiondúil i bprós, tá sé athchóirithe i bhfoirm fhileata anseo. Míreanna dírbheathaisnéiseacha, mar aon le tuairiscí orthu siúd a bhfuil clú agus cáil bainte amach acu, a bhíonn faoi chaibidil go hiondúil ann. Lúbtar an dearcadh seo agus, cé go n-ainmnítear daoine a raibh baint acu le saolú dánta áirithe, is ar ghné fhileata an tsaothair a dhírítear. Toisc go bhfuil an seánra aistrithe go Gaeilge, ní aithnítear ach na hocht litreacha déag a bhain go traidisiúnta le haibítir na teanga sin.


From the reviews of Aibítir Aoise : Alphabet of an Age :

    I just this morning wolfed down the last seven or eight poems of Alphabet of an Age; I read a few to begin with the evening after Celia so kindly gave me my copy at the Book Barn, and realised immediately that they were not pieces I wanted to rush through, but the last pieces were so good there was no stopping.  It's a pleasant irony to have the book in hand so soon after having first learned of the Polish tradition of the alphabet book; only a couple of weeks ago someone brought a copy of Czeslaw Milosz's ABC, which was the first I'd ever heard of the form.  And certainly it was a surprise to run across the first Irish-language poem--hm, no, maybe the first poem in any language?--with a setting in Uncasville, which is where I live--life has no end of surprises.      

    But I found Celia’s book filled with one lovely thing after another.  One of the things that often strikes me with Irish-language poems (or at least their translations into English, as my Irish is worse than rudimentary) is the effortless way it seems to contain not only its past but a wonderful sense of the surnatural:  how they so easily assume the voice or the subject of some person or character of the past and make it convincingly present (I was thinking of "Derbforghail") but the poems too that just slide past the obvious edge of the simply realistic or natural (like "Maiden's Hair" but also, for that matter, "A Butterfly Aflutter," which is a wonderful poem and might be my favorite in the whole collection).  There's that, but what I also enjoyed here was how the poems range around in all sorts of different approaches, from the casually social (like "Lunch") to people and places all over the literary and geographic globe to the intimately personal (like "Watch).  I can't not mention "Handbag," which has a whole drama and a life packed into it.  In any case, the entire book was a pleasure, and I've already begun rereading certain pieces--not for the last time I'm sure.  So I thank Celia again for the gift of it.

       Glenn Shea, The Book Barn, Niantic

    Tá an cnuasach seo bunaithe ar Leabhar Aibítre na Polainne. Scríofa i bprós, tá an leabhar athchóirithe i bhfoirm fhileata anseo. De ghnáth is sceitsí agus míreanna beaga dírbheathaisnéiseacha a bhíonn faoi chaibidil sna haibítrí seo, ach tá a cuid féin déanta ag de Fréine astu.

    Tá éagsúlacht agus doimhneas brí iontu go léir. Úsáideann sí bunmhúnla chun dul ar aistear samhlaíochta agus fileata agus éiríonn thar barr léi, dar liom.

    Tá ábhar machnaimh sa chnuasach seo. Briseann sé múnlaí. Osclaíonn sé fuinneoga na samhlaíochta agus baineann de Fréine triail as féidearachtaí nach bhfuil triáilte go dtí seo.

       Mícheál Ó Ruairc , Feasta , Bealtaine 2013

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