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  • Née en 1974, en Irlande du Nord, Leontia Flynn vit et travaille à Belfast.
    Bien qu'elle soit peu connue, voire inconnue, du public français, elle n'en demeure pas moins l'une des meilleures représentantes contemporaines de la nouvelle génération d'auteurs irlandais dans le domaine poétique. Elle est en e?et l'auteure, maintes fois primée, de quatre ouvrages parus ces dernières années aux éditions Jonathan Cape : ese Days ; Drives ; Pro!t and Loss ; e Radio. Évoquer ici en quelques phrases l'acte poétique de Leontia Flynn, c'est déclarer de prime abord qu'il s'agit d'une écriture d'une clarté radicale, critique, sans envolées faussement lyriques, où l'histoire de sa vie se dessine en creux, derrière les traits de son père ou de ses proches, dans une alternance toute particulière entre des textes discrètement autobiographiques et d'autres clairement biographiques, lorsque sont évoquées, par exemple, la vie et l'oeuvre d'auteurs et d'artistes comme Charles Baudelaire, Elizabeth Bishop, Samuel Beckett, Orson Welles, Sylvia Plath... Une sorte d'étonnant Lagarde et Michard, poétique et fragmentaire, qui connaîtrait un plaisir insigne à ressusciter tel ou tel auteur déclaré (cliniquement et historiquement) mort, en nous le rapportant dans tout ce qu'il peut avoir de plus humain, de plus intime, de plus bassement corporel, où s'ingénie aussi à se manifester un humour noir et sec, presque trivial, qui ne cède jamais cependant au cynisme.
    Leontia Flynn, Fanny Quément (la traductrice) et les éditions Marguerite Waknine ont donc fait présentement le choix de collecter sous la forme d'une série (et comme autant de curiosités déployées) ces sonnets jusqu'alors dispersés, à la manière d'une suite de vignettes intimes composant une encyclopédie personnelle, où les croquis font la part belle aux a?ects, aux traits saillants, aux divers maux catalogués, comme si chaque sonnet avait pour dessein de composer la miniature d'un cas (existentiel et médical) remarquable et curieux.

  • Celebrated as an unusually original poet - nervy, refreshing, deceptively simple - Leontia Flynn has quickly developed into a writer of assured technical complexity and a startling acuity of perception. In her third collection, Flynn examines and dismantles a fugitive life. The first sequence moves through a series of rooms, reflecting on aspects of the author's personal and family history. Using the idea of the haunted house or the house with a sealed-off room, and Gothic tropes of madness, doubles, revenants and religious brooding, the poems consider ideas of inheritance and legacy.

    The second section comprises a magnificent long poem written in the months leading up to the banking crisis and presidential election of October 2008. Taking as its occasion a flat-clearing, it assumes a more public voice (inspired partly by Auden's 'Letter to Lord Byron'), and reflects on aspects of the rapid social and technological change of the last decade. An extraordinarily moving reflection on mutability and mortality prompted by the spring-cleaning of a life's detritus, 'Letter to Friends' evolves from a private reliquary to a public obsequy.

    Its collapse back into private griefs, including the poet's father's decline into Alzheimer's disease, is pursued in the third section of the book. Here the theme of a tallying of private and public balance sheets, of different kinds of profit and loss, widens to include poems of motherhood and marriage, the possibilities of hope and repair.

  • Anglais Drives

    Leontia Flynn

    Following on from the assured day-to-day poems of her first collection, Leontia Flynn's second, Drives, is a book of restless journeys - real and imaginary - interspersed with a series of sonnets on writers. Beginning in Belfast, where she lives, she visits a disjointed number of cities in Europe and the States - each one the occasion for an elliptical postcard home to herself.

    Alongside these reports from abroad, portraits of dead writers flicker through the pages of this book - Baudelaire, Proust and Beckett; Bishop, Plath and Virginia Woolf - all revealing aspects of themselves, their frailties and their sicknesses, but also, we suspect, aspects of their ventriloquising author.

    What these poems share is a furious refusal of received opinion, of a language recycled and redundant; they are raw exposed and angrily aware of distance - the distance between what one needs and what one receives, between love and what is lost. In particular, the lives here are haunted by the lost idyll of childhood, while poems about the poet's own mother and ageing father bring the collection to a close. With an alert ear for fracture and disarray and a tender eye for damage, Drives is a passionate enquiry into what shapes us as individuals.

  • These Days represents one of the most strikingly original debuts in recent years and won the 2004 Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Leontia Flynn - still in her twenties - writes about Belfast and the north of Ireland with a precision and tenderness that is completely fresh. While her subject matter ranges from memories of childhood to the instabilities of adulthood, from the raw domestic to the restless pull of 'elsewhere', her theme throughout is a search for physical and mental well-being, for a way to live a life. A number of exquisitely moving poems about her father highlight her extraordinary gifts: her exact ear, her heightened, filmic sensibility, her bittersweet tone - all of which combine in poems that are accessible but not obvious, witty and serious, delicate but tough, and always surprising.

    These Days is not simply a first book of great promise; it marks the arrival of a new, exciting and important voice.