Making Music contains more of the 'quirky, strange and thought-provoking' for which Cotter has been praised. Angels in various forms proliferate in this collection, musing on mortality, the centrality of art, the fragility and misguidedness of humanity. The book is rounded off with a pair of Celtic epyllia more influenced by Logue's Homer than by Lady Gregory.
Making Music (Three Spires Press, 64pp. €10), Patrick Cotter’s second full-length collection, is full of inventive mischievousness and idiosyncratic wit. In the Kiddies of Lir we’re told the kiddies’ “necks poured forth like pus congealed”. The Wedding Night of Aoife and Lir becomes a mock-heroic told by Aoife where Lir “snuffled at my girly, unkissed feet”. Any romance is thrown out the window when she reveals that she was “impaled like an apple being cored”. The humour is dark and an iconoclastic heart beats throughout Cotter’s work. The Unembroidered Cloths sends up Yeats’s embroidered cloths of heaven by situating us in an “Underworld” where we “waken to find ourselves/ treading on our nightmares”, while Not Being Kavanagh is a hilarious paean to disenchantment.
Making Music is also saturated with the presence of “angels”. But unlike the glut of angels in American poetry, Cotter’s angels are of a different species altogether. In fact, one particular “Angel” has more in common with Hughes’s “Crow” than any other celestial being: “Angel failed to pack his feathers on his trip to hell”. In these poems, and specifically in Journal of a Failed Angel Whisperer Cotter creates a subversive, impish creature: “Angel beckoned/ and I radiated upwards out of the oven of my body”. A book more of nightmares than dreams, Cotter writes nonetheless that “The undreamt life is not worth living”. An anarchic voice in Irish poetry, Cotter’s new collection is playful, irreverent, and welcome.
- Paul Perry The Irish Times August 2009
Angels are both figures of annunciation and fellow-travellers in a pitiable world. They instruct and suffer, telling the poet home truths and collapsing ‘slumped colourless on the wardrobe’ (‘Journal of a Failed Angel Whisperer’), when the burden of mortality that the poet carries becomes too chthonic and full of ectoplasm. Keeping the company of angels might bring grief to any poet, but Cotter is an adroit and knowing artist; his verse is as likely to be soiled by a passing pigeon as enchanted by ethereal beings. He is, after all, a disciple of German poetry. Rilke was Cotter’s first angel when he was a youthful poet working in Waterstones in Cork, though his language become as dark as a cadaver in a page from Gottfried Benn as he matured. Angels in this book have guarded him from the nest of rats below the diaphragm, from decay and corpses.
- Thomas McCarthy Poetry Ireland Review March 2010
And there are other tones in this collection: the title poem’s beautifully paced ironies, the witty excrement in ‘Courthouse Steps’, as well as the provocative rhetoric of ‘On Not Being Kavanagh’ and the vulnerable devotion of ‘So So’ – ‘I could cut the veins in my fingers / they are so soft since touching you’. Making Music is not an easy book to read; but it is sui generis Cotter, quirky, uncompromising and a roar of colour from among the speckled birds of the South.