Sunday 7 June 2020

Review by Lauren M. Foster of "Dinner in the Fields" by Attracta Fahy

There is something of the wild about Attracta Fahy’s first poetry collection, Dinner in the Fields. It draws frequently on pantheist mythology, much of it, unsurprisingly, Celtic. This is, however, no wistful new-age collection. Through the use of ancient archetypes Fahy explores what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century. In the first poem, 'The Woman in Waterside House,' we hear the voice of a woman experiencing domestic violence: the reader is left with little doubt of the poet’s intention to address difficult themes. In the final stanza of 'The Woman in Waterside House,' Fahy states: 

          Easier to pretend my life 
          is full, than to face the shame 
          in your eyes, mine, 
          and the shame of the world, 
          when you are a woman with a fist over your face. 

The poems in Dinner in the Fields span the author’s lifetime: from her childhood memories of living on a farm next to a graveyard in rural Galway, to her bidding her son farewell as he leaves home to move 6,000 miles away. The past is connected to the present through sky, stone, earth, flora, fauna, and the ancestors are as much in attendance as the poet herself. In the poem 'Our Sleeping Women,' Fahy writes: 

          Old graves sloped down
          from our farm. As a child
          I played house, tea sets
          on tombs, innocent, 
          listening to spirits. 
          Daughters left to work
          with duty not to themselves,
          but others who cared little
          for the objects they’d become.

Fahy is not afraid to experiment in form: the poem 'Wintering Swans' spreads over two pages like swans flying in formation. There is gentle humour too, in poems such as 'A Diagnosis / My Daughter Speaks': 'my daughter tells me I need / to see a doctor. I may even have Alzheimer’s / … / ‘What age can you get Parkinson’s?’ / After half hour in the kitchen. // ‘Can I get a lift to my friend’s house? / We’re having a sleepover.’

Dinner in the Fields illustrates the idea that women are closer to nature, violence and sex, but is also a celebration of renewal. I read this collection before I went to bed one night and lay for over an hour thinking about the poems. I look forward to reading more of Attracta Fahy’s work in the future.

About the reviewer
Lauren M. Foster is a poet and graduate of the MA Creative Writing at University of Leicester. 

1 comment:

  1. Attracta is an amazing lady,mother & great friend.What you see is what you get from Attracta,her words just flow from her like her contagious giggle.��