Hymn to the Reckless, the debut collection of poems by American-born Erin Fornoff, traces an arc from youthful adventures in the Appalachian mountains to a confrontation with life’s complexities, not least in the radically transformed America of recent times.
Moving between that America and her present ‘Home from Home’ in Ireland, Fornoff finds a kind of consolation in community, while struggling to bridge the ever-widening gap between what is and what should be, between the world she left and the one that threatens to replace it.
She finds a peace in the natural world and rejoices in those moments of ecstatic recklessness that remind us to be present, no matter the shape of the world we’re in.
“Of all the poetry I read, it is lines and images carved by this brilliant woman that stay with me and that I find myself quoting to friends whenever I’m allowed to talk poetry!”
— Hollie McNish
“Erin’s poems are each a blast of sensory magic conjuring intoxicating images of lost American summers of youth and memory; there’s sadness here for life and loss and poems of Ireland filled with love of friends … She makes the quotidian spellbinding and mesmerising in equal measure.”
— Emmet Kirwan
Small Town Synaesthesia
At the station, slicks of oil tie-dye the puddles
in the concrete, below the pumps, as they tick over
the litres and gallons. They reflect the sun,
turn it wild, hold it in the cracked dips of the ground.
When he balances the till at the end of the shift
the numbers throb coloured across the spectrum;
they cast a lemon scent when the totals align.
The streetlight haze makes him taste salt.
Sneakers hum, make a pale green sound
as players fight for the rebound.
Colour: his secret language. Smell and taste and noise:
his tangled fluency. Can he grow to see his unruly filter
as a gift, beyond affliction? Turn his own faulty wiring
into some exalted circuitry?
The door chimes in the town’s one restaurant.
It blooms a purple sheen behind his eyes, and dims
as the noise fades. They know him when he walks in.
He’s been hanging out at this same gas station,
drinking this same beer, having this same chat,
since growing pains disheveled his sleep. He’s mastered
the edit of his own thoughts.
Small towns remake teenagers
into polished stones, tumbled by peer pressure,
grey as concrete. Every sound dances an acid trip
across his brain. He wonders what shapes
the train whistle makes when it blows
in other places. He is oil catching sunlight.