Last night, when Seamus Heaney read from his back catalogue of poems to a packed house in Whitworth Hall at The University of Manchester, he spoke of the freshening wind that comes and goes in the poems of his new collection Human Chain. That book and last night's reading (soon available in our podcast section), alive with the flicker and surge we find in the work of our greatest writers, are revelatory in the way they make us see again human relationships and in the way they speak for a poem’s capacity to make those revelations.
In this fifth issue of The Manchester Review, that doubleness and self-aware description of the act of writing are defining common subjects: we hope you’ll feel the freshening wind when you read Peter Sirr asking:
Who owns this land, these trees, these birds
pouring through the morning? I’ve come here
emptyhanded to harvest the wind on my face […]
and we hope you’ll enjoy reading, as much as we enjoyed finding, among other things, Leontia Flynn’s brilliant and sly versions of Catullus, who would ‘give for the gibes and ogling of the olds / just what they’re worth – approximately 1p,’ Ralph Black considering ‘day’s ledger’ ‘all but unreadable / in this thin parchment of light’, and CK Williams’ exuberant ‘Writers Writing Dying’ enjoining us to: ‘Keep dying! Keep writing it down!’