POETRY IN BRIEF
Frank and Paul, who are normally alone on Christmas Day, spend it instead together in Frank's "top-storey flat ... In the southern suburbs of / Dublin city" and the poem is made up of conversations which weave in and out of failed loves, past disappointments and the death of parents. Both are lonely in different ways and in Paul's eyes they are "two turkeys / Sitting down to Christmas Dinner/ In excitement, yet grief."
Paul is revealed to the reader in a series of intimate and brutally honest confessions. His loneliness doesn't have a frighteningly desperate edge; it is more a resigned, attritive solitude, his hair is "grey from woman-hunger", and halfway through the day he suddenly exclaims: "forgive me for raising my voice ... But the womanloneliness is beginning to get to me, Frank."
Despite the unquestionable dignity of the two characters, this poem is bleaker than Durcan's other works. He is a master of minor tragedies and melancholy, self-mocking humour. Don't be intimidated by the idea of a lengthy poem: Durcan is utterly at ease within the form. The demotic language and the short, rhythmic lines pull you on through even the most painful recollections of the men. It is a beautiful, poignant and wry piece of writing. The firm yet hesitant friendship between these two men is the most genuine note of goodwill you could come across in a whole month of Christmases. Maggie O'Farrell
Arts & Ents blogs
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
The Hangover III star Heather Graham: I'll miss playing a sexy stripper because my real life is pretty boring
Hollywood practices random acts of red-carpet kindness
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
Cannes Film Festival 2013: And why exactly are vous here?
- 1 Breaking: Soldier killed in Woolwich machete attack named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.