Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stories and poems about Northern Ireland by a master storyteller and poet

“Haunting Tales and Living Verse of Ulaid: Ghosts across our landscape”, by Colin T. Mercer. Night Publishing, October 2011. Kindle and paperback

Colin Mercer’s collection of poems and stories of Northern Ireland (“Ulaid”) is an absolute gem of a book. Some of the stories are laugh-out-loud funny, others poignant, others about ghosts and body snatchers in the 1700s, Viking raids still earlier; Ireland’s coastal waters, the heather, mountains, weather. I came away from the book feeling steeped in Ireland and the Irish, reminded of good friends who recently spent a month or so exploring the land of her ancestors.
There is so much loveliness in this book that it’s difficult to point to favorites. “Resurrection Men”, about body snatchers in the 1700s left me laughing out loud, as do several others, including “Catching the Train”, a poignant story that ends ... well, I won’t spoil it for you, but I’m still laughing.
There are stories about illness, mothers, grandmothers and losing one’s childhood innocence one day that recalled “the Troubles” and, for me, in “My Troubled Playground of 1976”, the tragedy of Gaza and the West Bank where children lose their innocence, and sometimes their lives.
Colin Mercer is a wonderful poet and storyteller. He is also the author of “For Irish Eyes” (2009), available in paperback from
“Ghosts across our landscape” is a book I will read again and again, savoring each reading like a good piece of chocolate or a fine wine.

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