Vinegar Hill: Poems

Beacon. Apr. 2022. 144p. ISBN 9780807006535. $22.95. POETRY
Born in County Wexford, Ireland, Tóibín is a keen observer of Irish and gay life and has enjoyed an increasingly distinguished career as novelist; The Master, a portrait of Henry James, won the International Dublin Literary Award, while the Costa Book Award–winning Brooklyn sensitively negotiates the experience of a young Irish immigrant in 1950s New York. Like many novelists, Tóibín turns his hand to poetry as well, and this generous volume collects verse written over many years, with poems addressing distant places, politics, sexuality, and memory. Tóibín’s sense of enjambment is not always smooth, and some of the poems engage experience without the last refinements that would render them more than memoir or journal page, but his verse is always articulate and convincing. Tóibín is at his finest in the poems that approach epigram, as in “Curves” (“Within the body is its own sweet sound/ It starts as echo and fades fast”) and “Anton Webern in Barcelona.”
VERDICT A novelist’s poetry is, with a very few exceptions, a pleasure for the completist, but in this collection Tóibín supplies poems that should interest readers beyond his usual audience.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing