"In Nourishment Hartigan explores the possibilities of love, sex and desire. The age-old association of food and sexuality is inscribed with the sacred connotations of a "holy sin", a private ritual that encompasses physical and emotional healing as well as the creative possibilities of words rooted in bodily experience. Love is both constructed by the social and unquestionably ruled by the needs of the individual. Hartigan's poems accomplish the difficult task of writing about love without ever falling prey to sentimentality. At times purely physical, at times deeply in love, her voice contributes to the dismantling of old-fashioned conceptions of female sexuality. These poems are a treat for the senses and present Anne Hartigan as undoubtedly one of the most talented voices in contemporary Irish poetry."
Nourishment was launched at The Irish Writers Centre in Dublin, introduced by Poet Michael Coady.
Anne also read from Nourishment at the Dublin Writer's Festival 2005.
Publisher: Salmon Poetry
Because I have lain on your deep Africa
Gorse light and dusty cinnamon, burnt umbers
You drank deep of my waters north and south,
Arising dripping, a dark god. Knowledge of interiors.
How simple to exchange continents, to play so easily
A classic music.
Child's play, intricate and private, allowing love space
To move in. A sacred grove, rowan, ash, laurel
To cast and shed spells. This enchantment is as natural
As the moon. This is the first touch. Shock: your unknown
Face, skin. I roam in ochres, duns, siennas, gifts
Spread before me on the white cloth. This is the necessary
Air and water, the bread my mouth waters for, it can go on.
Anne Le Marquand Hartigan begins with an invitation-poem: "Here, take this/scatter of poems before you..." Is the reader addressed? No, the ironic last line - "The full abandon" -- reassures us we're not literally included.
From the first line of the second poem, we are immersed in a sequence of dramatic love-alogues. We find ourselves, like voyeurs, reeling precipitously through so many amorous moments that the lovers must have felt wearied by the time they reach The Weather Channel, Florida, 2001, where they move "into this, still carry between them/their own personal weather."
The sequence has formal and rhetorical flaws, but avid readers won't be deterred. The poems achieve high marks for two of Milton's criteria: only a C for "simple" in the Puritan sense, but A's for "sensuous" and passionate".
Saturday 3rd September, 2005