These sixteen stories from an award-winning fiction writer and poet follow a cast of characters destined to navigate a world that is by turns perplexing, intriguing, threatening. What to Put in a Suitcase evokes a rich variety of people and situations: a suburban dinner party whose hosts harbour a troubling secret; a childhood prank in 1940s Dublin with tragic consequences that reverberate through the decades; the sinister challenge of walking along a deserted corridor; a family fleeing environmental disaster in a Dublin of the near future; a passionate defence of personal space, even if only in the local café.
Engaged with both the minutiae of thought processes and the impulse to action, these stories grapple with individual psychology and wider themes of justice and the place of individual in the political and social context of the modern world, at times seasoned with a sly humour when least expected. An intriguing and compelling collection.
Turas Press 2022 ISBN 978-1-913598-37-2 Order the book here.
Learning to Tango is an exuberant, playful, sometimes intense reflection on navigating the challenges of movement, the dynamics of the dance-floor and the world beyond it. The poet makes many discoveries along the way – about the dance, about the quest for the ideal and the necessary acceptance of imperfection. Throughout the collection, the mischievous use of traditional and non-traditional poetic forms convey the variety and skill of tango itself. And at the heart of the endeavour is a passion to imbue every step, however simple, with balance and grace, for “In tango the walk is simple/and therefore, takes a lifetime to learn” These poems invite the reader on a tantalising journey, to share the joys and pitfalls of communication, yearning, and the politics of belonging and desire.
Turas Press, 2021 ISBN 978-1-913598-18-1 Buy the book here.
Canticle is a historical novel set in Renaissance Spain, inspired by the poetry and the life of the sublime mystic poet, St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz). His writing is as well-known in Spain as Shakespeare is in the English-speaking world and in fact, he was a contemporary of Shakespeare.This is a detective story as well, following the quest of a cynical Dominican monk who gets the job of unravelling some of the mysteries of San Juan’s life – he lived in turbulent times, when religious orders were as enmeshed in politics as our political parties are today. The investigator, Fray Martín, is ordered to search for the lost manuscripts of San Juan’s poems, especially his “Cántico Espiritual” – the Canticle – hence the title of the book.
Turas Press, 2018 ISBN: 978-0-9957916-3-3 Buy the book here.
The conversational tone of many of the poems in this collection belies the subtle craft that underlies and unifies disparate themes. So Long, Calypso is peopled by a cast of characters recognisable from ancient history and myth, from recent history and from contemporary culture. The musings of these various personae are by turns reflective and urgent, their concerns social and political, as well as personal.
“In poems of both expressive energy and technical skill, she lays bare an underlying order that most of the time we only guess at….Hard-won insights here, compassion and a measure of clear-eyed joy, sustained and framed for us in humane, beautifully-achieved poems.” Paula Meehan
Turas Press, 2017 ISBN 978-0-9957916-0-2 Buy the book here.
Snow at the Opera House brings a new voice to Irish poetry that is probing, incisive, at times playful and always deeply original. Paring away all that is superfluous, McSkeane skifully distills moments of personal experience down to their essential core, often richly imbued with universal resonances. Her subtle tapestry gradually expands to examine the hidden tensions behind the social and historical landscape of our times. Whether rooted in Dublin’s Botanic Gardens or in the real or imaginary landscapes of Europe, or delving into the lives of Sola and Franz Liszt, In exploring the tension between the differing definitions of freedom, the gulf between public and personal experience, and the complexities of human identify, McSkeane has created a deeply open and accessible poetry that resonates in the purest sense. It is the work of a complex and challenging imagination.
New Island, 2002 ISBN 1-902602-93-5 Buy the book here.
In Flight is the début collection of poetry from a vibrant new voice. These poems evoke the world of dreams or the unconcious, creating startling images that may be real, or the product of imagination, or both – a dead swan, a ruined city, broken butterflies on a windowsill accompanied by the menacing throbbing of a helicopter overhead. The external world is never far from the surface of these imagistic evocations of fantasy, often conveyed through haunting descriptions of nature at its most raw and challenging times – midwinter, Halloween. There is humour here, too, irreverant and playful challenging of stereotypes.
First published in 1995 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. Re-issed as an ebook in 2022 by Turas Press. ISBN 978-1-913598-41-9 Buy the book here.