THE GHOST TWIN
Poems by Anne-Marie Fyfe
Anne-Marie Fyfe was born in Cushendall in the Glens of Antrim and now lives in London where she organises the Coffee-House Poetry readings programme at Earls Court's Troubadour. Her previous collections are Late Crossing (Rockingham , 1999) and Tickets from a Blank Window (Rockingham 2002). A freelance teacher of literature and creative writing, she was Writer-in-residence at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (2003) and her poem "Curaçao Dusk" won 1st prize (£5,000) in the 2004 Academi Cardiff International Poetry Competition.
In this, Anne-Marie Fyfe's third collection, The Ghost Twin, an evanescent glimpsing in a motel mirror, epitomizes new concerns over the inseparability and unassimilability of fable and fact, of lore and recall, in a world defined for us by, among other things: fiction; Forties film; painting in oils; childhood play; the epic Russian novel; newscast; rumour; and second sight. A central section sees the poet at home in unsettled cities, in the territories of hostile or disputed borders, on missions with unpredictable aims.
'Anne-Marie Fyfe's poetry is taut, eloquent and deeply felt. Her poems are haunted by what the Past does to the present, and by the physical relics of that past which is only recalled in snatches. A wedding-ring can be trash or treasure, memory jostles against what might have happened, and the lives of the dead will always escape those who try to sum them up. Her language is resonant: she comes up close to her subject, and estranges the familiar only to give it back more precisely.' Helen Dunmore on The Ghost Twin.
'Anne-Marie Fyfe's inventories of contemporary domestic life are consistently unsettling and sometimes downright nightmarish . . . The poet writes as good as poets should, with a sense that the answer to what troubles her is somewhere in the language . . . Anne-Marie Fyfe reminds us of the skins we inhabit and shed: the houses, the rooms, the cars . . . This is fine poetry.' John Greening, Times Literary Supplement, reviewing Tickets from a Blank Window.
'Poem after poem has this quiet musicality, along with a persuasive and obstinate trust in what Wordsworth called "the essential passions of the heart".' Michael O'Neill. London Magazine, reviewing Late Crossing.
It's when she overhears him explain
to an earnest New-Year's partygoer
how he comes from a long line
of morticians and cellists – cue for
another of those unbelieving silences -
she realises he'll never quite learn
when to rein in. Not that it's lies
as such, always a dash of the factual
bowled with a light spin. On a good day
he's been a Rhode Island Trappist,
a teamster, a worn-out sportswriter
at his peak. On not-so-good days
he's shiftless, complains of tedium
on the night-flights, the slump in envelope
sales, tension of the wrecking-ball cab.
Finetooth comber of charge-accounts
he still regales with the night he drew
a fourth ace, their house-deeds on the line
leaving her to wonder if the tale
of an earlier wife who vanished
unreported, untraced, might just be
worth keeping at the back of her mind.
THE GHOST TWIN
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Cover illustration: Lucy Brown (1952), by Deborah Brown, b.1927 © Ms Deborah Brown 2005, Collection Ulster Museum, Belfast. Photograph reproduced with kind permission of the Trustees of the National Museums & Galleries of Northern Ireland.
Publication: AUTUMN 2005 (62 pages laminated paperback)