NOW AND AGAIN, I receive books from authors and publishers that take me by surprise. It is, in particular, the very nature of the book that takes me by surprise: the thematic arc, the context of the story, the historical ground that the book covers, the references and allusions.
So it was when I received Postponing Ásbyrgi, the latest collection of poems by Westmeath- born, Waterford- based poet John Ennis. Famously described by the late Seamus Heaney as “Ireland’s most undeservedly neglected poet”, Ennis is a previous winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award, a past editor of Poetry Ireland Review and an author of thirteen books of poetry, published by The Gallery Press and Dedalus Press.
Published by Three Spires Press, Postponing Ásbyrgi is a collection of poems inspired by the music of Sigur Rós. According to the back cover of Ennis’s book, “The poems in John Ennis’s latest collection are intended as conduit back to the music of Sigor Rós and those who perform with them. The poems arise from and refer back to the music. They are taken from an ongoing sequence.”
As a Sigur Rós Fan and as someone who saw the Icelandic band play their first- ever Irish show in April 2001 at Temple Theatre in Dublin at the insistence of Julie from Road Records- who introduced me to Sigur Rós via Sigur Rós’ extraordinary Ágætis byrjun record- I am interested in Ennis’s reaction to the music of the Iceland band.
When the economic downturn hit Ireland full- force, the cliché trotted out by celebrity economists and media pundits, at the time, was that “the only difference between Iceland and Ireland is a letter”. That aside, I’ve always felt that there is a strong connection between Iceland and Ireland: we’re both small islands in the north Atlantic; we both boast beautiful, open scenery and our music has a sound that reflects the landscape around us. I’ve always felt the echos of Sean-nós in Sigur Rós.
I haven’t yet started reading Ennis’s intriguing book of poems, though I look forward to reading it. A review should appear in the new year.