The Sun is Open: A Reading
Dr Gail McConnell, Queen’s University Belfast
The Sun is Open pieces through a boxed archive of public and private materials related to the life and death of Gail McConnell’s father, who was murdered by the IRA outside their Belfast home in 1984. Flitting between a child and adult self, the book chart the experience of going through the box, as the poems attempt to decode the past and present, and piece together a history, and a life.
McConnell reads a selection of poems that create a rich and varied soundscape – helicopters, Bananaman, TV news, gunshots, Bible readings, hymns, a dentist examining a mouth. These poems also wonder about what sound is and what it makes possible: the relationship between sound and sense (or nonsense), or sound-making and meaning-making; the sound or memory of music; speaking in tongues; the figure of Echo; and how sound and language enable the formation of attachments with the living and the dead.
The Sun is Open will be published by Penned in the Margins in September 2021. The late Ciaran Carson said of the book, The Sun is Open employs a grammar in which everything is significant, from Wendy Houses, to the very hairs of your head, to the poetry of First Aid instructions, to slaters. This is meticulous and painstaking — sometimes pain-making work — making the words fit the columns, be they inches of newsprint or entries in an Account Book, negotiating or nudging the meanings into alternative senses. A series of ethical considerations and transactions, credits and debits that sometimes demand to be accounted for, or judged, or at least spoken of in the light of whatever the forensics might or might never unfold.’
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The Conference was organised as part of the AHRC/ESRC funded Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research project Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation 2017-2021.