Patrick Moran’s Fourth collection, Reckonings, traces the poet’s journey from a rural upbringing, marked by religious fervour, to a world of fraught intensities and troubled legacies. Having Charted his progress through diocesan boarding school, where he takes his first, tentative steps as a poet, Moran next focuses on early adulthood, a period of existential questing and drifting, when he struggles to find a voice in the classroom and on the page.
While the last section opens on a buoyant note, with a group of marriage poems, echoes of earlier turbulence are still heard, notably in “Spectral” where nightmares disrupt his sleep and memories rip open/ (his) delicate/ stitching.
Indeed the past – its moulding, its affirmations, its shadowing – pervades Moran’s reckonings in this section: whether in taking stock of his teaching career; in re-assessing his heritage; or brooding, characteristically, on blighted lives and might-have-beens.
As Reckonings tries to keep faith with its formative influences, the poet bears witness, in these unsparingly honest lyrics, to his life and times: turning, as he observes in ‘Makings’
his restless days
into jottings, numbered pages:
as if the unrecorded life
were not worth living.