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Humour breaks through dark themes in Linnane poetry

Wednesday, 2nd July, 2014 6:21pm

Humour breaks through dark themes in Linnane poetry

The Potless Generation is a collection of poems by James Linnane, published by The Manuscript Publisher and on sale now in print and e-book editions. In the author's own words, it is "a book about where my country and our world is at right now, put where we are by the unscrupulous, ruthless and greedy."

Linnane’s poetry visits many places, exploring emotions and themes that will strike a chord with "anyone with a spirit generous enough to weep for the world," according to fellow poet, Kieran Furey. "There is plenty of life experience to be distilled from between the lines."

James Linnane was born in Co Galway in 1962, and now lives in  Meath, with his wife and two daughters. People who know him have described him as everything from "a kind of mad-but-wise existentialist bog philosopher" to "a man with an above-average-sized brain and an extraordinarily big heart" - often in the same sentence.

Linnane's themes are frequently dark: aging, nostalgia, regret, the brutish incompetence and indifference of some of those who rule us politically and financially. Ageing is presented as winter drawing in and night coming on. But humour often breaks through, like sunshine through the clouds. - Kieran Furey

Angry, discordant notes are indeed present in The Potless Generation but it will be evident to the reader that these are borne of a "love of his country ... his belief in dignity, truth, justice, democracy and the hardship experienced by the common man ... so well expressed in this book," as Máire Morrissey-Cummins observes in the Foreword to this volume. There is also much by way of genuine warmth and even an optimism. Hardships are endured and struggles are waged so that the obstacles standing in the way of progress can be overcome. Linnane believes passionately that the outcome of all this will be a better world for all, both this and future generations. Growing old, even death itself can be seen as part of this renewal:

Harvest fruit is falling fast, ripe and ready for eating.
It seems each year it's old mistakes that I have been repeating.
Put away your summer thoughts, unwrap the garments of colder days,
When winter comes, our time is done and everything decays.

- from Cold Days are Coming, published in The Potless Generation by James Linnane

James Linnane has lead something of a roving life, with an interesting and varied career that has included bar work, construction and engineering, security and retail. He has always been a writer at heart however and has carried that with him wherever life has taken him. His first book, Never Take an Irishman Seriously Unless He's Armed, is a collection of poems and short stories that was published in New York, in 1988 but now out of print.

The Life and Times of a 'Gotcha' was published in 2011 and has been re-issued, in print and e-book format, to coincide with the publication of The Potless Generation. Described as a 'novel', it reads a lot like a thinly fictionalised memoir of his experiences, while working as a security guard in various parts of Dublin, during the 1980s and '90s.

How much is true and how much actually happened? You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Amid the boredom of a mind-numbing job, sometimes emerged a madness and events which you really could not invent; you just had to be there. - James Linnane, author of The Life and Times of a 'Gotcha'

The Potless Generation and The Life and Times of a 'Gotcha', both by James Linnane, are available to buy online, in print and e-book editions. Further information is available from the The Manuscript Publisher and also from the author’s website, James Linnane Bookchat Corner.