Sing to me
Avonbeg, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland; 2004; £6.50 plus £1.60 p.&p. UK; Pbk.; 81pp.
Sing to me is an autobiographical memoir from Dublin poet and bookseller Louis Hemmings, himself an LCF associate member and reviewer. Born in 1957 his faith has been tested by the loss of a child and vicissitudes affecting not only himself but his forebears.
Despite the setbacks there have been blessings too, which he is not slow to bring out, and a firm trust in God’s providence has sustained him. He got jobs in bookshops; took himself to America for a creative writing course; married; built up his own bookselling business; won prizes; published Holly, a story of stillbirth, Samovar Press, 1995 – a narrative that it is hoped may help others – and Firstborn, Samovar Press, 1993, which offers both personal poems and more public ones on figures such as Booth, Shaftesbury, Cruden, Athanasius. In this he emulates Cornish Methodist poet Jack Clemo who, with Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, influenced Hemmings.
The second half of Sing to me interweaves snatches of his correspondence with Clemo with the narrative text. This helps to bring out the trustful, direct faith and generous human sympathies of both men but the mainly personal context of these teasingly brief snippets, embedded in the main stratum, has its cons for students of Clemo. Hemmings has virtue of his own as an able, quiet-voiced, honest narrator, however, and this is a commendably accessible, straightforward book.
Contributed by Brian Louis Pearce, MA, FCLIP, FRSA, a retired College Librarian now working as a novelist and poet.