The Sun is Open pieces through a boxed archive of public and private materials related to the life and death of Gail McConnell’s father, who was murdered by the IRA outside their Belfast home in 1984.
Flitting between a child and adult self, this startling, innovative debut charts the experience of going through the box, as the poems attempt to decode the past and present, and piece together a history, and a life. The Sun is Open is scheduled to be published in September 2021.
The late Ciaran Carson said of the book, ‘The Sun is Open employs a grammar in which everything is significant, from Wendy Houses, to the very hairs of your head, to the poetry of First Aid instructions, to slaters. This is meticulous and painstaking — sometimes pain-making work — making the words fit the columns, be they inches of newsprint or entries in an Account Book, negotiating or nudging the meanings into alternative senses. A series of ethical considerations and transactions, credits and debits that sometimes demand to be accounted for, or judged, or at least spoken of in the light of whatever the forensics might or might never unfold.’
Director of Penned in the Margins, Tom Chivers, says, ‘The Sun is Open is utterly compelling; a vital and moving work of memory, personal testament and the poetic imagination. When I first began reading the manuscript – it’s a cliche, I know, but I couldn’t put it down. This astonishing, singular poem demands to be read and re-read, and I’m honoured to be working with Gail to bring it to a broad readership.’
McConnell’s pamphlet Fothermather (Ink Sweat & Tears, 2019) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award 2020.
Penned in the Margins acquired worldwide rights direct from the author.