The Lucky Star of Hidden Things
Review By Jack Little
Published in Issue 21.
The Lucky Star of Hidden Things is a mysterious book, tracing the memories of Africa and the childhood of the poet. This debut collection is a book of exploration, wandering and remembrance, the title is from a translation of ‘Sadalachbia’, the name given to a star whose appearance signals the arrival of spring. When it becomes visible, nomads pack up their tents and seek fresh pastures. This collection sings of times past, the memories of an outsider:
chongololo queues wait for pirate taxis;
men, dark as squid ink, drink chibuku
Her poems explore the primary, the beginning, Africa, and to this end, her work is riddled with beautiful words from distant cultures. Afric was raised in Zimbabwe and other countries and this sense of longing for something lost appears as a theme throughout. In fact it is infectious. The words used sound beautiful and with a glossary to explain their meaning, you are transported to other worlds: mangwanani, rondavel and kopje. Even the cover by Siobhán Hutson takes you out of your every day life, a beautiful fruit from another land adorns it like a star, mysterious and inviting.
Another important element of the book is its eroticism, the sensual, love and relationships. The poem “Do not lie to a lover”, she speaks of some universal truths of the game of love: Do not lie to a lover/ but on the other hand, /do not always /tell him the whole truth. Moreover the poem “Bodytalk” scream of seduction: Madeleine applauded at the vision/ - a man! – then loaded senses, flame and blood, / mouth a quiver.
I enjoyed reading this collection very much and without doubt, The Lucky Star of Hidden Things is an impressive first collection. Afric McGlinchey is one to watch for the future and as a recent winner of Ireland’s Hennessy Emerging Poetry Competition there is surely more wonderful poetry to come from this talented poet.
Afric McGlinchey grew up in Ireland and South Africa. In 2010 she won the Hennessy Emerging Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in The Shop, Southword, Poetry Ireland Review, Scottish Poetry Review, Acumen, Magma and other magazines. Her recent awards include a Faber Academy Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination and commendations in the Magma and Dromineer Poetry Competitions. She is an editor, reviewer and tutor, and lives in Kinsale, County Cork.