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To inhabit a city for 34 years yet still maintain the perceptive and ever-roaming eyes of a stranger is a gift which John Liddy shares in the title poem “Madrid”



By Marylyn Gafford
Photos: M. Gafford

As humans, we often feel the need to categorize our lives, thoughts, and allegiances, but sometimes we find that this simply cannot be done. Such is the case for Irish author John Liddy who was raised in Limerick, Ireland but has spent 34 years of his life here in Madrid. In his newest collection of poetry, entitled Madrid and Other Poems, John Liddy demonstrates both his love and intimate knowledge of Madrid and the Spanish people as well his cherished memories of his homeland of Ireland sheathed in 56 diverse and moving poems.

Her Excellency the Irish Ambassador to Spain Sile Maguire speaks to the attendees of the book launch at the Booksellers in Madrid

The launch party of the book was a testament to the mixing of these two cultures, as Spaniards and Irishmen alike filled the Booksellers librería in Madrid to celebrate Liddy’s eleventh publication. The night began with a performance of traditional Irish folk songs, with John Liddy himself on the bodhrán (a traditional Irish drum) accompanied by Nicholas Eyre and Chris Dove, all of whom are members of the Madrid based folk group “Puca Óg”. Other notable guests included the Irish Ambassador to Spain, Síle Maguire, who in her praise of Liddy’s poetry stated that “John is one of those rare beings who has managed that capacity to feel at home in two different worlds”.

Puca Óg plays at the launch party: L-R, John Liddy,  Nicholas Eyre, and Chris Dove

Publisher Dominick Taylor from Revival Press also expressed his hope for the book: “I am delighted that Revival Press, as an independent, small publisher, can contribute to the spread of ideas that allows readers to, as the motto of the [Madrid] book fair says, ‘Read to Know, Read to Imagine’. Ideas that can reach the human mind and perhaps spark new thoughts and new ways of understanding, and transform the world we live in forever. As John Liddy’s publisher, I am certain that the book we are launching tonight, Madrid and Other Poems, can do just that.”

Liddy recites from Madrid And Other Poems

The collection of poems comprises three different sections: Praise, Tort, and Vista. In each of these three sections Liddy explores a vast number of themes and ideas including gratitude, mourning, social injustice across the globe, and the continuation of memory and history. To inhabit a city for 34 years yet still maintain the perceptive and ever-roaming eyes of a stranger is a gift which John Liddy shares in the title poem “Madrid”. When faced with writing about Madrid, the author explains that he looked not only to the city itself but to the people who live within it, as they are those who truly encapsulate its soul.

“Madrid” is an ode to the place that Liddy has come to love, expressed through the careful recording of experiences and observations in his notebooks over the years.

Large turnout at the launch

For anyone who has also come to know and love Madrid as their home, Madrid and Other Poems is a must-read. Through the 56 poems in the collection, Liddy deftly touches on aspects of life that anyone can relate to, from the triviality of tabloid culture to the plight of the Native Americans in the United States.

Seeing the world through the eye of someone who has lived and grown in two different cultures is a rewarding and rare experience made possible by Madrid and Other Poems.

Buy the book here: http://www.limerickwriterscentre.com/books/madrid-and-other-poems/