This chapbook was published this year by Hedgehog Press. American artist, Mathew Yates painted the chapbook’s cover. This well-written poetry collection, Under A Mind’s Staircase, by Robin McNamara looks at a multitude of things. From Gods and the Devil, to the moon and the sea, to nature and relationships, childhood, dreams, school days and more.
One poem recalls the iciness of a break up, of the promised tomorrow’s that never happened, ‘The Frosted Eye’. Other pieces imagine living in other places such as ‘Lobsterland’, “Near the buttered mountains.” A place where there is no pollution or death. ‘Alice in the Undergrowth’, transports us back to childhood and Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.
Another piece ‘Dublin’, brings us to “the eye of Ireland”, and mentions the seagulls. Earlier in the book we had the blackbirds eating berries in ‘Blackbird on the Hill’, “Pregnant with blackberries.” Again, ‘Apple Picking Season’, with references to nature’s fruit, and also has references to the biblical tale of the forbidden fruit with of Adam and Eve. There are a few poems with priests and nun’s and church. ‘The Nun on the Bicycle’ made me laugh and says “(Based on a true story)”, underneath the title.
Lots of the poems were inspired by certain people and there are notes under the poem’s title stating who he got them from. T.S. Eliot inspired at least two poems, and ‘Dublin’, was inspired by Stephen James Smith’s Dublin You Are
Poems such as ‘Dusked Evening’, reflect the beauty in the world and at the same time, the words written by Robin woke up my senses. I could visualise the meadows and smell the fragrance of the flowers, and almost taste the tang of the nectar’s sweetness. “That call the bees to suckle Their nectar: sweetness on a Summer’s evening. Hedgerows Release their perfume scents. My senses are intoxicated with Herbaceous fragrance.”
‘Soul of Dust’, got me thinking of the poem ‘Dust if you Must’, by Rose Milligan. Both Robin and Rose’s poems make a good point. We live once, so enjoy it. At the end of the day life is precious and we are only here a short time, eventually just leaving a trace of dust in this world that we existed.
‘Three Grams of Sugar’ kept me thinking, not everything is what it seems. “Your sweetened lies…. Bitter sweetness, …As black as the untouched/cold coffee”. Think of Snow White and how the kind old lady gave a tasty looking apple, that was poisonous!
‘Autopsy of A Writer’ is an important one for myself, as I am just starting out to submit works to be published book-wise, and to accept that rejection is going to be inevitable, like a skinned knee, it’ll bleed and hurt yet heal. I am thankful that Robin didn’t give up on his dream to write so that this chapbook Under A Mind’s Staircase, was made.
(c) Grace O’Reilly
Order your copy online here.