Dinner at Madonna’s
by Kevin Irie
Kevin Irie’s Dinner at Madonna’s explores the fusion of personal and historic memory and nationality within the context of growing up in multicultural Canada. A third generation Japanese-Canadian, he writes: "Memory is the country I hold as a citizen displaced by my time in the world."
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Kevin Irie has appeared in publications in Canada, the United States, England, Germany, and Australia and his poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, and Portuguese. He has four books of poetry: Burning The Dead; The Colour of Eden, a finalist for the City of Toronto Book Award; Dinner at Madonna’s; and Angel Blood: The Tess Poems, longlisted for the National Relit Award in Poetry. He was a finalist for the CBC Literary Award in Poetry 2008, and was also shortlisted for ARC’s Poem of the Year Contest 2009. He lives in Toronto.
Kevin Irie’s book is his third, and, for my money, the best, most mature collection here… These poems scale the upper reaches of Parnassus and bring back the news.
~Richard Stevenson, The Lethbridge Insider
Irie’s work is beautifully restrained as it moves from Toronto to Italy to British Columbia, and out of that restraint comes some truly arresting images. In Sunday at the Vatican, for example we encounter the Pope at a window as “a lone tooth in an ancient mouth,” with a red tapestry below him “like a panting tongue”. The strength of Dinner is the frequency with which Irie lets such images speak for themselves, avoiding the temptation to overwrite them or bury them in commentary.
~Ian Samuels, The Calgary Herald
The collection takes us sequentially from the streets of Toronto’s Little Italy to the historically rich arteries of Venice, then back to Canada with a new, widened perspective… The work moves from distanced observation of others’ migrations to greater and greater intimacy.”
~Sonnet L’Abbe, The Globe and Mail
Dinner at Madonna’s is Kevin Irie’s third book, a mature and reflective work, full of resonance and depth… Sparse, carefully wrought and lit with piercing imagery, this work is moving and beautiful.
~Barbara Curry Mulcahy, Alberta Views
Here is a poet with a particular past walking through the streets of Venice and Toronto, through art galleries and back alleys, through familiar and foreign mythologies, startling us, arresting us with each unexpected turn of his heart and mind.