Elegies to death and loneliness

A Load of Firewood seems to describe this successful technique: the way a woodpile drying in the right conditions has the fat worked off it by the years, and downsizes to a tightening of material, the way less volume means more heat. That poem’s perspective on migrant traffic through Calais asks readers to consider stories that are not just “front-page-story speak / and brass-necked eldorado talk” about a European promised land, pointing instead to “original restlessness” as being as much a motive for migrant travel as anything else. ADVERTISEMENT John McAuliffe’s fourth book is The Way In (Gallery, 2015). I’ve tried guilt-tripping myself, but love won’t come back on my command. He teaches poetry at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing Again White draws on the language of carpentry and building as a sort of imaginative framework. Because the poems so often set themselves at odds with any romantic or escapist response to their terrible occasion, such moments are rare. Poets often remember and see their speakers in places we had either forgotten or not imagined, an act that acquires a peculiar force in elegies, those empty mirrors the poet makes out of known material, which find a way into private, hard-to-articulate feelings. She is unflinching about what she records, and the writing’s fidelity to her experiences is communicated clearly in every poem in the book. In Wash her daughter “turns to me her too-white face, / falling on her mother’s breast: / although I’m a thorny nest, / just now I’m all she’s got.” In Falling the determination to say, honestly, what happened means the language alludes to that great contriver of poetic form and image George Herbert, but it then seems to exhaust itself as the poem presses its sad confession: This business of falling out of love is long and grim, unlike the falling in. / Things don’t get better, they get worse” is the blunt opening to The degenerating anatomic structures of your body. The book’s first poem, Sign of the Anchor, begins “I stood at the dangerous shore”, but by the end of the poem the bystander speaker has been almost completely submerged by her subject: “I was far out, in wet denim, and the shore was a jolt when I looked back.” Images of the sea, and encounters with Freud, recur. In one of the book’s elegies, Elegy for a Welder, he …

Europa Nostra

Chinelo kept the sun in a folded leaf under a mattress. Atiq gathered feathers from trembling snow. She writes the literary travel column The City and the Writer for Words without Borders Mykola dreamed a mystery turned cruel by another dream. Roya kept the shadow of the Caspian Sea in the man who needed her. Bina stole prayers from forgotten bodies. Nathalie Handal’s books include The Republics, winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing and the Arab American Book Award; The Invisible Star; Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award. Zainab operated a boat to be close to the hundred and three members of her family who drowned. Meanwhile, when anyone says toughen up, look at them until they fade. Bassem learned to speak a language with another alphabet. Maybe the past is the beginning and return is staying absent. Saba held the sound of the drums as if it were breaths. Now that we are guests in our bodies, how do we survive? Bekim carried splintered glass across a hundred mountains.

Mohsin Hamid: ‘there’s a real fear of the future right now’

But it’s a rearguard action. “On what basis do we tell people that they can’t move?” he responds. I set up my first Skype account so my parents in Pakistan could see their grandchild in London. They haven’t entirely left where they’ve come from but yet they don’t have the satisfaction of relationships where they are now.” Alienation Might this also be a contributory factor to one of the problems attributed to modern migration, the failure of immigrant communities to assimilate and their ensuing alienation? Walker/Getty Images for Doha Film Institute “It’s true we can now maintain a connection, but is that connection a kind of limbo state, where we are unable to engage in a grieving process and let a relationship go, and we’re also unable to achieve the satisfaction of a truly present relationship? It felt to me not dissimilar at all to what happens to the kids who go through that door in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe “I did not speak a word of Urdu. “It’s entirely possible to construct a society which is much more equitable but doesn’t put restrictions on migration.” He believes that the current wave of nativism in the West will ebb. But it too – even though it’s hard to imagine it today – will probably usher in a new world with all kinds of cross-pollination of ideas and ways of being and liberations for all sorts of people.” Exit West is published by Hamish Hamilton “Even if you’re a quote-unquote illegal immigrant, you go out there and get a job and stay below the radar. And yet people have a way of adjusting and adapting and moving on. “Yes, and the trends you talk about fundamentally challenge the notion of what it means to be present at a particular time in a specific place. It might or it might not.” ADVERTISEMENT Migrant experience Doesn’t it also change the traditional understanding of the migrant experience? I think that results in a fundamentally different kind of relationship than Skyping for 15 minutes once a week. Heterodoxy terrifies lots of people who think their culture is monolithic. “We’re seeing that not just with migrants from other countries but with younger generations who are almost like another type of migrant. “The question we have to ask is what is the nature of that seeing? I never corresponded with or had any contact …

In a Word . . . Euthanasia

Old age has little to offer. That, however, is accompanied by a stripping away of our independence, our dignity, as control disintegrates and we become a humiliation to ourselves. We grow; hold our perfection briefly; we decline. Where people “vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease/And wear their brave state out of memory”, as Shakespeare put it. Plenty of red meat. I have always believed our life design is upside down. Might it not be more humane were it the other way around? No religion. I would love to reply to them: “Loads of late nights. I do not want the media traipsing to my nursing home bed where I am propped up before an icing-covered sponge cake with 118 candles. ADVERTISEMENT In this newspaper last month we featured Kate Tobin, a former nun who worked for 13 years as a palliative care nurse. Who wants to end up incontinent in mind and body? It is said that some years ago, when asked his opinion on euthanasia, a rural TD responded: “I suppose they’re no better than our own youth here at home.” He could be forgiven as few talked about euthanasia then. I have no ambition, ever, to be the oldest man in Ireland. inaword@irishtimes.com From eu/good plus thanatos/death. And a very bad temper.” It might stop them asking that daft question again for fear they’d get an honest answer. We should not be trying to prolong it. I do not want cameras there as I am presented with a cheque from the President, or bored reporters asking me that underwhelming question: “What is the secret of your long life?” Then again… Euthanasia, from Greek meaning an “easy, good, or happy death”. She has MS and wants the right to die when it progresses. I would love to be asked that question. Forty cigarettes between sunrise and sunset. A bottle or two of brandy a day. Who are we to say she should be forced against her will to suffer the humiliating latter stages of that awful disease? Some suggest that is what happens, how with old age we revert to childhood. Sex whenever with whomever/whatever, wherever I could get it. Now, it’s different. Why should anyone be forced to endure such final humiliation against their will? Were it to happen, there is just one reason why I would ever like to be 118.