Sacred Symphony is a new collection of poems on life in inner-city Dublin, by Karl Parkinson, with photographs by Peter O'Doherty. It includes All the Swings are Gone and is introduced by Father Peter McVerry, who concludes with these words:
Those who are economically unproductive are considered a drain on the economy, undeserving of support. Those who are homeless, addicted or long-term unemployed are not just excluded from society, but unwanted by society.
This oppressive ideology has become so embedded in the thinking of many, including our decision makers, that any alternative seems unimaginable. That is why the poems in this book are important. They challenge that ideology, they reflect the anger and feelings of those who are excluded and feel unwanted, who see no future for themselves in our present society.
Some of these poems are dark, despairing and difficult to read. Many are about the use of drugs, the only respite available from a painful and seemingly meaningless existence. Others reflect dreams that will never be fulfilled, or a search for meaning, or for answers to half-articulated questions. And the poems show a resilience that often characterises those who have to struggle hard, on a daily basis, to survive and make sense of their lives.
But these voices, uncomfortable as they may be to many people, have to be heard. They have to be listened to. And they require a response.
Comments on the book so far include:
Here are poems that bear witness. Here are poems that do not look away. Sacred Symphony is, in essence, a holy book for our times – a book that illuminates the vast, oceanic nature of human grief caused by poverty, addiction and violence in inner-city communities and beyond. Parkinson is among the most important poets working in Ireland today. – Annemarie Ní Churreáin, poet, author of Bloodroot (Doire Press)
Karl Parkinson is amongst the most courageous of modern Irish writers. – RTE Lyric FM
Parkinson has set himself up unashamedly and without irony as a singer of the human soul in its contrary states of degradation and exaltation. It's worth listening to him. – The Irish Times
There is a very good interview with Karl on the excellent Island's Edge website.
Sacred Symphony by Karl Parkinson, ISBN: 978-1-912710-33-1. Price: 12 euros, plus p. and p: