James Conor Patterson
bandit country, the much-anticipated debut collection from James Conor Patterson, is a rollicking, hyper-literate and at times deeply troubling account of a young man’s navigation of the semi-lawless borderlands between the north of Ireland and the Republic – the ‘bandit country’ of the Troubles – and the criss-crossed sea border to England and beyond. Patterson shows us how the militarised boundary line of old has morphed into an invisible and semi-wild frontier, where the ghosts of a thirty-year war continue to haunt the ‘ceasefire generation’.
Patterson writes in a hybrid dialect of Newry street and Scots and Irish-inflected English – and in a virtuosic variety of forms: these poems crackle with vernacular wit and the rhythms of everyday speech, absorbing the influence of the poet’s Belfast mentor, Ciaran Carson, and the radical poetics of Tom Leonard. Already a rising star and Eric Gregory award-winner, James Conor Patterson is an extraordinary talent at the forefront of a new wave of poets exploring the linguistic inheritance of region and community.
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