Following on from the assured day-to-day poems of her first collection, Leontia Flynn’s second, Drives, is a book of restless journeys – real and imaginary – interspersed with a series of sonnets on writers. Beginning in Belfast, where she lives, she visits a disjointed number of cities in Europe and the States – each one the occasion for an elliptical postcard home to herself.
Alongside these reports from abroad, portraits of dead writers flicker through the pages of this book – Baudelaire, Proust and Beckett; Bishop, Plath and Virginia Woolf – all revealing aspects of themselves, their frailties and their sicknesses, but also, we suspect, aspects of their ventriloquising author.
What these poems share is a furious refusal of received opinion, of a language recycled and redundant; they are raw exposed and angrily aware of distance – the distance between what one needs and what one receives, between love and what is lost. In particular, the lives here are haunted by the lost idyll of childhood, while poems about the poet’s own mother and ageing father bring the collection to a close. With an alert ear for fracture and disarray and a tender eye for damage, Drives is a passionate enquiry into what shapes us as individuals.