Unearthly Toys by Ned Denny

Shortlisted for the 2019 Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize

Ned Denny’s Unearthly Toys are treacherous playthings, as rigorously structured as they are thematically unsettling, a rhapsody of rags gathered from several dung-hills, excrements of authors, toys and fopperies confusedly tumbled about’ (as Robert Burton dubbed his Anatomy of Melancholy).

The collection opens on a twilit, numinous world of exotic drugs, subterranean drums and visionary apprehension in which – to quote Twin Peaks, a recurrent leitmotif – ‘the woods are wondrous … but strange’. Interspersed with original poems in a variety of complex forms is a series of illuminated and darkly erotic remakes of other poets work, from the Old English classic The Wanderer to late Baudelaire via Goethe, Cavalcanti, Li Po, enigmatic troubadour lyrics, and the medieval abbess Hildegard von Bingen. Politics are never far away: modern man’s severance from the earth, the sacred, and his own inner self has grave consequences.


Consider the architecture of the fire;

this radiant palace receiving in turn

the great bare mouth of the smallest creature



(@Carcanet, 5 August 2018, ebook, 88 pages, borrowed from @natpoetrylib via @OverDriveLibs)




This is a new poet for me. I thought this collection was just okay. I didn’t connect much with any of the poems. I felt the poems were too abstract for me. I like poems I can connect with on an emotional level, poems that speak to me. For the most part, Unearthly Toys left me cold. I don’t like Twin Peaks or poems that are surreal and off-kilter. The poetry in this collection aren’t terrible but really we’re not my cup of tea.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.