imram : odyssey
Arlen House, 2010. This dual-language collection is loosely based on the Imram, an Irish literary form, which recounts a voyage to another world. During this voyage the traveller is faced with many challenges which must be overcome.
From the reviews of imram : odyssey:
Celia de Fréine is a writer of great depth and versatility. Her involvement in drama, opera and filmmaking brings unusual energies to her poetry, extending the possibilities of the short lyric and evoking a world in the process of being discovered. imram/odyssey – a dual language text – charts a personal journey to Eastern Europe and engages with the Irish literary form that traditionally recounts voyages to other worlds.
Though this is the most unified of the collections reviewed here, it is also the one that questions cultural boundaries most deeply. The subtle tonal shifts not only testify to de Fréine’s linguistic sophistication, but to her openness to new modes of experience and expression. The sense of renewal that emerges in this collection is also intrinsic to the individual poem and occurs differently in the English and Irish versions, as line-breaks are used to significant effect for the postponement and resolution of meaning. The richly textured Irish finds its English parallel in clarity and economy of expression, in the creation of a style that moves easily from personal observation to subjects of historical weight.
...The testing of these cultural and linguistic boundaries is both the subject and the practice of de Fréine’s art and makes for some of the finest poems being published in Ireland today.
Lucy Collins, The Irish Times
De Fréine's concerns in imram are multiple, and her journey is both exterior and interior, one that is concerned with exploring notions of borders and limits.
What de Fréine's poems have, and in spades, are poise and form. There's an awareness of craft at work, a sense that she reins herself in. In 'Grafting', from Scarecrows at Newtownards, she writes of a 'darning needle produced that perfect seam / with no beginning and no end'. Imram / odyssey is superbly honed, both in Irish and in English (no mean feat in itself, and poets are generally best not translating their own work). She understands the different registers required for both languages.
Liam Carson, Poetry Ireland Review
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