"I'll Be All Right Tomorrow" and "Touch" reviews
"I'll Be All Right Tomorrow" by Dympna Brogan
A Book Review by Alain English
This short book tells the story of Irish woman Dympna Brogan, who suffered massive head injuries in a car crash and developed epilepsy as well as losing the power to read and write. Dympna also suffered the loss of her younger sister Rosaleen, an incident for which she felt responsible and this book charts the journey of her coming to terms with this.
The story is simply conveyed with clear, uncomplicated language and Dympna's persistent courage in the face of huge adversity is very moving. There are plenty of insights here, including what happens during an epileptic fit and managing a neurological disorder when bringing up a family. There is also insight in dealing with the emotional and psychological baggage that can accumulate after a serious accident. Dympna describes the mixed emotions of regret and anger very well.
This is a tremendous story, and I have learned much from reading it. I have learned about the long process of dealing with traumatic and unexpected events in one's life but also about one person's lifelong struggle to express herself.
I was given the book by Dympna's daughter, Catherine, and I understand and respect Catherine a lot more after reading about her mother.
"Touch" by Hollie McNish (CD and Booklet)
A Poetry Review by Alain English
Hollie McNish, Cambridge-dwelling poet and former UK Slam Champion, has always produced work that possesses insight laced with an intense sensuality. So it is here with her spoken word album "Touch".
From the opening piece "A British National Breakfast", it's clear she can say the unsayable and make it sound good. Whilst many other artists share the same viewpoints on politics and society, Hollie relates what she thinks in a style that is uniquely her own,
Some of her material takes humourous twists - "Willies Are More Dangerous Than Guns" - and her romantic material like "My Boyfriend Can Cook" is full of imaginative imagery and is delivered with a feverish eroticism. In a similar vein, "Language Learning" is also brilliant, as Hollie wraps her tongue round lyrical phrases spoken in both English and French.
The later pieces in the set take on a feeling of righteous anger - it's clear in pieces like "It's Not Over" and "Observer" that Hollie believes in womens rights to be equal with men and that the fight for these rights is still ongoing in a society that is still very male-oriented. The pieces "A Man" featuring Inja and "Mr Important" take a much-needed dig at the male ego.
The best poets in my view take strong viewpoints and invest them with a sense of personality and power, but also an essence of truth. Hollie McNish is one such poet and her CD and booklet come highly recommended.