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Scarecrows at Newtownards

Published by Scotus Press, 2005. This is the first collection in English from this Patrick Kavanagh Award winner.

Available online from Scotus Press

From the reviews of Scarecrows at Newtownards:

    Celia de Fréine is one of those strangely rare creatures of contemporary Irish poetry, a poet in both the official languages…It may be that this creative traffic between languages is responsible for the colloquial ease and flexible syntax that are so welcome in De Freine's work, and perhaps it is responsible also for peppering her fables of contemporary life with odd but compelling medieval allusions. Either way, the more surreal the mixture, the better it works.

       Selina Guinness, The Irish Times

    If prose and verse can be mixed in text between covers then they can be mixed in reviews too. This axiom should be more often employed if it highlights poetry as observant and rewarding as that in Celia de Fréine’s new collection. The title is based on a painting, reproduced on the cover, by Daniel O'Neill which depicts four female scarecrows, skeletal and masked with boughs for limbs, draped in silk like crucified partygoers. It is the type of image described as arresting; so are the poems. De Fréine's evocative meditations seize the reader with a strange and unique mixture of sensuality and pain. Here too is the true poet's gift to surprise. Poem after poem captures its moment, its insight deftly, visually, forcefully. Though the poems can contain references to literature they are not literary in the sense that they are in any way derivative or dependant on worn themes. What has been written before is real and here its reality is both acknowledged and reinvigorated. Bravery, cowardice, risk, trust - de Fréine surveys the disputed frontier of male and female territories with a lucid, ironic but finally humane eye. The death of poetry, I heard someone say. Not with books like this around. More like the death of criticism if poetry like this is not widely praised and recognised.

       Rory Brennan, Books Ireland

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