For anyone who has ever had too much of it, or felt out of it, or wanted to be out of it, or even succeeded in being out of it then been unexpectedly rescued by a good friend, this book-length poem contains a lifeline of humour and sanity in a world run seasonally mad.
It is a funny, subversive, melancholy, self-mocking conversation between two men - Paul and Frank - in the top storey flat of a Dublin apartment block; a Stations of Christmas under the influence of "woman-hunger". Once read, Christmas Day itself will never be the same again.
The volume also contains a second new work, "A Goose in the Frost", a tribute to Seamus Heaney on winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Throughout his long career, Durcan has continued to make passionate and moving poetry out of his own and his country's misfortunes. He is by turns a surrealist, a mystic, an Irish comedian with perfect comic timing and an angry champion of the oppressed. Life is a Dream reaffirms the constant vision and artistic integrity of one of the most powerful, humane and original voices in modern poetry.
The first section describes an experience in Australia which provides a starting point for reassessing his past relationships and loves. The second returns to Ireland, its people and places, the celebrated and the unknown. The third section is a meditation on his daughter's marriage, placing within an historical and sacramental context a very personal event. And finally, in some of his most daring and original writing, Durcan describes his own twentieth-century romance, replete with ecstasies and inevitable agonies, beauty and hope, but also brutality and self-abasement.
This book contains Durcan's own selection from his work. It is a literary milestone that has set the seal on his reputation as a poet of international standing.
Regarded by many as the great poet of contemporary Ireland, Durcan is on top form here as he contemplates the fall of the Celtic Tiger, while railing against bankers and 'bonus boys'. There are poems of love lost and won, and poems in memory of friends and relatives who have passed on, but there is also joy to be found in the birth of a grandson, and there is praise, too, for the modest heroism of truckers, air traffic controllers and nurses, those 'slim, sturdy, buxom nourishers' of fallen mankind. If for Sartre 'hell is other people', for Durcan 'heaven is other people, especially women'.
Is there an art of living or is life a work of art? This magnificent collection - originally published on Paul Durcan's sixtieth birthday - reveals one of Ireland's most successful and popular poets at the height of his powers and continuing to challenge, amuse and delight.
Durcan also muses upon the beauty of Greek women and questions our need for newspapers and the new religion of golf. He is beguiled by a beggar woman, enraged by a young man picking his nose on the Dublin–Sligo commuter train, and gets into difficulty at the security gate of Dublin airport.