Date: 26th July 2018
Extent: 80 pp
BIC Code: DCF
Exploring place and displacement, boundaries and borders, Passport is the second collection by Richie McCaffery, and follows his acclaimed debut Cairn (Nine Arches Press, 2014). In moving to the Belgian city of Ghent, McCaffery finds “What I see and what happens / are two different countries.” In a place of dualities and unrealities, the poems find the usual definitions themselves becoming unstable; the old currency that is no longer valid, the postcards home unsent and the present tense ill at ease.
Written in crisp detail, these fluent poems weigh up whether leaving is a form of running from or coming back to home, wherever that may be. At the heart of this tender and compelling collection, McCaffery writes directly of anxiety, loss and dislocation, asking us to consider what belonging is, and how we find our place in life, in love, and in language.
'I enjoyed these poems immensely. Spare, taut and lucid - there is not a wasted word – they interrogate the experience of a young poet living, as he puts it, "in a maze of symbols, /always in two places at once". I found them both unsettling and often incredibly moving.' – Vicki Feaver
'Passport allows the reader entry to poems of introspection that are searching and self-deprecating, critical and often humorous. These are poems of life as a series of breakages, in the hands of bombs or the hands of developers. Homes are flattened for a university. Farms are broken up into smaller parcels. Wood is chopped. Cobblestones are shattered. Marble turns to dust. The beauty of a city and its generations is levelled. Yet, ultimately, these poems provide repair, create ballast and balance.' - Paul Stephenson
'Richie McCaffery's poems operate usually in a small compass, but are charged particles: personal - without pushing it in your face - direct, clear and affecting in what they uncover and what they choose to disclose.'
- Alexander Hutchison
Richie McCaffery divides his time between Ghent, Belgium where he lives with his Flemish wife and the UK. He has a PhD in Scottish literature from the University of Glasgow where he was a Carnegie scholar. Richie is the author of two poetry pamphlets - Spinning Plates (HappenStance Press) and Ballast Flint. In 2014 Nine Arches Press brought out his first collection Cairn. His essays on poetry have been published in places such as Studies in Scottish Literature, etudes Ecossaises, Scottish Literary Review and The Dark Horse. His poems have appeared in journals such as The North, Oxford Poetry, Ambit, The Times Literary Supplement and Magma.
Photo credit: Gerry Cambridge
Richie McCaffery's debut collection of poems, Cairn, begins with a dedication and ends with ghosts in between lie artefacts and antiquities: a police whistle, a tarnished silver spoon, a bookmark lodged in an old book. Soaring and melancholy, the poems form signposts in the landscape of life, lore and family, mementoes for the buried and the living. Cairn is an understated and quietly-brilliant collection of poems, where each word is tactile and polished like a beach-combed pebble; these are poems you will want to pocket and treasure.