The Escape Artist
The Escape Artist was the overall winner of the 2005 Book & Pamphlet Competition.
The Irish poet Austin Clarke compared writing poetry to being loaded with chains, just like Houdini, and attempting to free oneself from them. A group of the poems in this collection deals with Houdini and his imagined alter ego de Kolta, both escapologists, and the theme of escape reverberates throughout the collection as a whole.
‘I’ve travelled all my adult life, and have been longer out of Ireland than in it, so towards the end of this book I began to play with the notion of Irishness, with a surreal sense of place. I spent many years in Asia. I wanted to solve the problem of the poet who does not have a natural constituency, rooted in the local and the national, such as Seamus Heaney began with. My aim was to draw together different strands of my experience without falling into the trap of the exotic, of merely local colour.’
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