‘The innocent and the beautiful,’ wrote W.B. Yeats, ‘have no enemy but time’ . . . a claim contested yet deeply considered here in poems honouring Anglo-Irish sisters Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markievicz, that Yeatsian bird the linnet, the Northern Irish peace process, and the traditional Irish genre the aisling or ‘vision poem’. The predations of time are mourned and challenged most intimately though in poems in memory of Belfast writer and cultural activist Mairtín Crawford, and his quietly remarkable mother, Flo Crawford. Elegiac yet defiant, No Enemy but Time keeps Naomi Foyle’s dream of Ireland alive.
My response to this collection cannot help but be personal, for Mairtín was a much loved friend – so reading No Enemy but Time felt at first like stepping right back into an old grief. But the more I read, the more I felt the power of these poems, honest tender and loving, to journey me through to a celebration of his life and energy – that man who ‘made up his own mind’, his vision ‘a mountain shaft on fire’. – Moyra Donaldson
If remembrance of love is to be clear-eyed, fearless, self-critical and devoted at once, these finely crafted and bracing poems are a tribute both to a poet of exceptional persistence in his own life and work, and to the complexity of friendship, passion and grief. Naomi Foyle’s elegies, songs, narratives are a withering minstrelsy – a touching, fitting capture of a very difficult and necessary affection. The image of the linnet remains – that songbird out of time – somehow at one with ‘the boom box of Belfast drums.’ – Damian Smyth
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