Down on the Farm (Chris Black)

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"Chris Black isn’t as intimidating as he may seem. In fact, he’s not intimidating at all for that matter. Chris Black is the most sensitive poet around. His poetry is in touch. His poetry is connected; to all six of our senses, the philosophy of man, and of course the ground beneath him.
Down On The Farm is not just evident of Chris’ range of style, voice, or subject. We must remind ourselves that we are talking about a prolific poet. One with poetry that can range from the pastoral, lyrical nature work riddled with simplicity that resembles the work of Heaney and Kavanagh. Until Chris strikes us with a poem full of humour and wit, more light-hearted but still self-reflective. With many a metaphor, and always something hidden ‘between the lines’. The first time I met Chris Black in Kilmuckridge at a writing workshop I decided to lead because at the time - and at fifteen years of age - I didn’t know anyone else that would want to, I wondered if Chris was just pretending to enjoy himself. His dry wit mixed with incredible talent to conjure up an exceptional poem in a matter of minutes without any need for editing or reflection. I wondered why he didn’t take over in the middle of the class; insist that he should be the leader, the teacher, the one we take notes from. He did the very opposite, he came back for the next session. This is just an example of Chris’ kind and caring nature, typical Irishman. Our mutual friends from Writers Groups around North Wexford often admired the concept of hardy men taking time out of their day and out of their work to sit down and write; pen replacing the shovel that was in their hands, paper being sowed instead of land.
Down On The Farm is not only a reflection on the Ireland that we have left behind, and the world that has gone by; it alludes to fears of the near-by future while marveling at what is distant. All I can say is that I am looking forward to hearing Down On The Farm. Hearing these poems in their second life. As Heaney, Chris’ predecessor in pastoral poetry, said; “Every time you read a poem aloud to yourself in the presence of others, you are reading it into yourself and them. Voice helps to carry words farther and deeper than the eye.” This poet’s readings do just that.
Chris Black’s work is the everyday Irishman’s life in written form. His scrutinising, thoughtful approach ‘looking in’ to everyday events. Let us hope that everyday Irish men pick up this poetry, read this poetry, consider this poetry, and continue to live in the world of this poetry."
- Alanna Hammel