Asking for Directions - Michael Farry

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Asking for Directions, Michael Farry's first poetry collection was published by Doghouse Books, Tralee in 2012. It was launched at a well-attended function in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim on 21`May 2012. Pat Dunne, novelist and broadcaster, performed the launch. The volume of 61 pages contains 47 poems. ISBN:       978-0-9565280-9-4

Extracts from Reviews:

There is a formal structure to many of these poems, stanzas of equal length which fit well with the narrative subject matter and, to me, are more effective than those given more freedom on the page such as ‘Public Records Office, Kew, London’ and ‘The United Affair’, where factual information is inserted in italics.

However, this is a collection of precise language, never excitable but drenched in images that allow you to see the places and people of these stories, often quirky and sharp. There is humour in poems such as ‘British Museum’ and ‘Convoy Driving Eastward, and exasperation in ‘At the V & A’. A world well-observed.
(Nicola Griffin in The Galway Review)

This first poetry collection is worldly while perusing the everyday; it’s sometimes startling or humorous, with subtle rhyme and understatement. Its strength is in the confidence to allow the poem to show the way without being over-told. In the signature first poem, the setting is Florence but the thematic sentiment asks for the poet to be left to wander uninterrupted in his native territory, ‘These thin streets lead nowhere but home.’  (Meg McNena on the Tinteán website)

These poems "reflect the life and travels of the poet with titles such as ‘Fuerteventura 2008’ and ‘British Museum’. Even when contemplating the most serious subjects, such as his own death, Farry manages to raise a smile and the poems are marked throughout with a dry humour". (Books Ireland)


A small sample from Asking for Directions - the first and the last poems from the collection.

Asking for Directions

Even in Florence they asked me for directions,
to the Ponte Vecchio as it happened, in Italian.
Lacking that language I pointed the lost lovers

south towards Piazza della Signoria, signed
right, then left. They arrived still hand in hand
I hope. Beard and age confer understandable

authority but my ease in these backstreets
is grounded not in familiarity with maps
but in the snug feeling that here I track

the firm footprints of kinsmen well-known
for fidelity to craft, adventure and devotion.
These thin streets lead nowhere else but home.

I long to lose this overlay of easy knowledge,
be a nameless native on O’Connell Bridge
or Piccadilly and especially on pilgrimage

through this infernal paradise of tight streets
between the Arno and Duomo, in full retreat
to the darkened Church of Santa Margherita,

where in the family tomb, Beatrice has lain
for seven ignorant centuries though the plain
stone is freshly decked with flowers. I crave

the look of knowing nothing worth asking for.

What Time is my Funeral?

The grin on the physiotherapist's skeleton
tempts me to fling stone through plate glass,
strike the sternum, watch her collapse jigsaw-
crazy on the supple floor. Unable to restore

he'd reorder, by Friday another on show.
I defy temptation, stalk by nursing home
and church to the vista of the ruins - abbey,
castle - on the riverbank where I ask,

Have I the correct change for the fare?
Did I lock the back door before leaving?

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