Kevin Higgins Reviews 'How To Lose Your Home & Save Your Life'

how to lose your home and save your life - angela t carr - review

Here it is: the first review of my debut collection, 'How To Lose Your Home & Save Your Life', by poet Kevin Higgins for The Galway Advertiser:

THERE ARE those for whom being a poet is, to paraphrase Angela Carr’s fine poem ‘Occupied’, “the new black”. If you are young and fit, all you need do is write long poems about what is going on at street level and wave your arms around when you read them.

If you are too weather beaten to pull that off, then find a major issue - cultural or political - and pretend to be anguished about it. The poses adopted may change but the emptiness inside remains. Such types are useful, though, because their prevalence enables one to immediately recognise the real thing, when one sees it.

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Angela T Carr’s debut collection How To Lose Your Home & Save Your Life (Bradshaw Books) is a book born of unbearable reality. Carr’s case against the financial institution that is attempting to repossess her house is to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, where she will represent herself.

Carr reminds me of Wilfred Owen who was a lyric poet, in the manner of Keats, until the First World War intervened. Carr also writes beautifully about love, as in ‘Butterfly Kiss’: “One on each eyelid, soft as a sunrise;/tender offerings, made in the pink of love”.

However the economic blows she suffered, losing her job and then facing the possible loss of her home, forced Carr to confront the big political issue of her day in all its dirtiness. The result is a collection crammed with poems what will speak to anyone who has had to fight one of our beloved financial institutions.

For me, the aforementioned ‘Occupied’ is the best poem written about the angry isolation so many have faced: “I’ve been in my foxhole for three years now…/…you, with your placard,/the ironic slogan, where the fuck were you?”

The Dáil should pass legislation forcing the banks to give every applicant for a mortgage a copy of this book.

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The piece also includes a review of Mary Madec's excellent second collection, 'Demeter Does Not Remember' - a modern-day take on the classical legend of Persephone and her descent into the Underworld - read the whole article here.

I'm blushing at the idea of being compared to the likes of Wilfred Owen, surprised and delighted at which poems stand out for someone reading the collection for the first time: it's never the ones I think will 'land'!

I'd add one small factual correction to the piece, in case anyone who knows me reads this and assumes my situation has escalated drastically in recent times.

The bank are not trying to repossess my home - yet. I mean, it's undoubtedly their end game but it's not why I'm at the Supreme Court. They gave me advice, following redundancy, where they failed to follow the Consumer Protection Code and it left my home unprotected. I'm not simply fighting back against repossession. I took the fight to them and changed the whole dynamic of the game. The bank can't touch my home until my case against them is resolved, a move that has gained valuable time to rebuild my life and career.

Financial institutions, in these times, have become towering walls of indifference to the suffering their recklessness and incompetence have imposed on everyone else and assume their sheer size and strength gives them all the power.

My story is the power of ONE.

I, alone, may not be able to subdue them but, with a bit of luck, I can certainly out-manoeuvre them.

'How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life' can be purchased online from Bradshaw Books.