‘Ach! I misspoke. What I mean to say is this …’ In Long Pass, Joey Connolly’s first collection, the poet – in love, in puzzlement, in frustration or in elegy – keeps catching himself out, starting again. He wants to speak truthfully. He wants to say things simply. But nothing is as simple as it seems at first. Nothing strikes the interlocutor quite as he intends. Ach! He goes back. Deflections, tangents: the long pass, the long unfolding sentence, the growing sequence, move away from what they intend to say in order at last, wittily, angrily, ironically, to swerve in and say it.
Translation, too, is hard. There are often competing versions – of Lorca, for example, and Cavafy. ‘ The painter is frustrated to be always / painting onto something, to be / concealing precisely as he displays.’ Words reveal and at the same time conceal, yet what they conceal is part of what they want to say.
The poet throws the poem for someone who isn’t always there to catch. The fortunate reader intercepts.