Title: Irish Nocturnes: Essays on Ireland, Volume IAuthor: Chris ArthurA PenMark Press Booksoft cover256 pp.USD 20.00ISBN 978-1888570496December 1999In this illustrated collection of eighteen essays the award winning poet and essayist, Chris Arthur, blends the intensely personal with the abstractly philosophical. His writing has been compared favorably with figures as diverse as Hubert Butler, Seamus Heaney, Joseph Campbell, C.S. Lewis and V.S. Naipaul. The lyrical writing contained in Irish Nocturnes provides the reader entrée into the author’s views of life, the ways we live it, the meanings we can find in it, and, in each nocturne, the author’s plea for a shared, thoughtful, peaceful understanding. (more . . .)ContentsOf Eels, Ulstermen and Dogs’ Tails Linen Ferrule An Image for Belfast In the Dark Substitute Psychometry Ne Obliviscaris Kingfishers Invasions Meditation on the Pelvis of an Unknown Animal The Empty Heart The Last CorncrakeUnder Siege Herdings Facing the Family A Paper Star for Brookfield Walking Meditation Going HomeCritical acclaim for Chris Arthur’s Irish Nocturnes : “True to the spirit of John Field’s subtly expressive musical compositions, the essays gathered in Irish Nocturnes are the work not of a dreamer or a sleepwalker but of an utterly alert individual intent on translating into lyrical prose the wonders and the mysteries of his world.” —Thomas O’Grady, The Boston Irish Reporter“[S]heer pleasure, a swim through the waters of consciousness of a man clearly fluent and knowledgeable in the essay form, full of information and opinion, fact and personal observation, a book that rewards in many ways, virtually in every sentence.” —Thomas E. Kennedy, The Literary Review“With the eye of a poet and the sensibilities of a naturalist, Arthur captures his readers’ attention easily and fully. [He] resembles both Loren Eiseley and fellow Ulsterman Seamus Heaney, two writers who brilliantly illustrate the physical and metaphysical connections between the animal and human worlds and map that connection on small and immediate as well as macrocosmic scales through time...reading Arthur’s prose is an immensely enjoyable and informative experience.”—Kimberly R. Myers, Nua: Studies in Contemporary Irish Writing“One of the ways of describing what Arthur’s essays amount to is to think of them as a quest for a spiritual ecology, a view inevitably reinforced by their references to Eastern religion...One thing is certain. Nobody from the Protestant community in Northern Ireland has spoken before as this book speaks.” —George O’Brien, Prairie Schooner“Irish Nocturnes contains eighteen essays which range in subject matter from the Siege of Derry to Buddhist philosophy, from owls and kingfishers to fear of the dark, from sheepdogs to how we acquire language, from learning things by heart to coping with a sense of exile, from the origin of life to making linen, from bits of bone to Japanese bells. Underlying this diversity is a common origin.” —Local Literature: www.local.ie/arts_and_culture/literature/A “thought-provoking...immensely readable and rewarding collection” of essays each of which “represents a lyrical interpretation of a facet of the Belfast-born author’s life through his childhood to his work as a nature warden and his experiences as an emigrant.” —Pauline Ferrie , The Irish Emigrant Book Review“There are eighteen essays here, an almost overwhelming gift, each a jewel in itself. [Chris Arthur] writes with simple grace and a poet’s instinct for the right and necessary metaphor...I will take time over my reading and go back a second and, no doubt, a third time. I am certain that more precious metal is to be got from such a rich ore.”—William Wall , Local Literature“The luminous opening essay [of Irish Nocturnes], on Irish linen, engages in an extended meditation on how we might pull each thread and move back in history, evoking Aldo Leopold’s account of a log going through a sawmill in A Sand County Almanac.” —James S. Rogers, New Hibernia Review“Arthur breathes new life into the genre of Irish History, while at the same time breaking free from the boundaries of genre altogether...creating a book that is breathtaking in its originality...Arthur maps out Ireland from his own personal perspective and encourages the reader to do the same. Entertaining, emotive and deeply moving, Irish Nocturnes will make you question your own views of the past, present and future. A book not to be missed.”—Ruth McNerlan, The Black Mountain ReviewAuthor Chris Arthur was born in Belfast and lived for many years in County Antrim. He worked as warden on a nature reserve on the shores of Lough Neagh before enrolling at the University of Edinburgh where he took a First Class Honours degree followed by a Ph.D. He has been widely published as an essayist and poet on both sides of the Atlantic. His work has appeared in The American Scholar, The Antigonish Review, The Centennial Review, Contemporary Review, Dalhousie Review, Descant, Event, The Honest Ulsterman, The North American Review, Northwest Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, The Wascana Review and others. Chris Arthur was Gifford Fellow at the University of St. Andrews and is a winner of the Akegarasu Haya International Essay Prize, the Beverly Hayne Memorial Award for Young Writers, and the Theodore Christian Hoepfner Award.