The Windows of Graceland gathers the cream of the crop from Martina Evans’s five previous collections of poetry, brought up to date by a selection of new and unpublished work. The earliest poems date back to 1998 and Evans’s expatriation from Ireland.
A complex nostalgia for her Catholic childhood establishes a central and enduring thread in the writing, the bloody shadow of sectarian conflict commingling with a child’s pastoral of pleated mustard kilts and corduroy paisley dresses, the ‘sighing country roads’, the ‘blue Burnfort evening’. The later poems, written from London, develop a fascination with Americana as the poet’s own cultural displacement takes on substitute forms, the Irish traveller Elvis O’Donnell finding his unlikely double in that other Elvis, of Graceland. Early poems on childhood come full-circle across the selection’s twenty-five year span in more recent poems on motherhood. When the poet’s teenage daughter returns home missing a shoe, ‘I don’t share her grief. / I feel relief / as if the shoe is a coin / paid to the wild / for her safe return.’ From story-teller to free-verse fili, memoirist to satirist, daughter to mother, The Windows of Graceland distils Evans’s full poetic range and power.