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The Sun is Open

Gail McConnell

"Each page is rich with exquisite and surprising language, pain, and wisdom."

Maggie Nelson
winner of the john pollard foundation international poetry prize
winner of the christopher ewart-biggs memorial prize
poetry book of the month - the observer
book of the year - tls & the white review
poetry book of the year - the irish times

The Sun is Open sifts through a boxed archive of public and private materials related to the life and death of the author’s father, who was murdered by the IRA outside their Belfast home in 1984.

Moving between child and adult voices, past and present, this startlingly innovative debut attempts to decode the fragments left behind and, with them, piece together a history and a life.


Our price £9.99
RRP £9.99
Please note: due to the recent change in tax regulations, we are currently unable to ship to EU countries.
126 pages
ISBN 9781908058928
Published 15 September 2021
Cover design: Zigmunds Lapsa


Each page is rich with exquisite and surprising language, pain, and wisdom.
Maggie Nelson

In this devastating yet immersive book, McConnell skilfully utilises juxtaposition, understatement and negative space to offer us an intimate work of poetic testimony.
Mary Jean Chan, The Guardian

A powerful sequence of poems.
Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph

It is as if her text were inhaling and exhaling in short gasps. The writing is in splinters, as befits the subject. [...] There is no missing the meticulous discipline and literary grit with which McConnell approaches her task. [She] makes the world bearable with poetry as [her] intercessor.
Kate Kellaway, The Observer

Overwhelming ... a visionary collage of fragmentary records.
Roy Foster, TLS

The Sun is Open brings us 109 pages closer to knowing that raging absence in the wake of violence, in the wake of love; the wakefulness that persists. The poem is history as postmodern text — all middle, no endpapers, no polite intermission or lapses of memory. This book’s freedom of thought is not taken lightly, but gloriously, celebratorily. Gail McConnell is a force.
Caoilinn Hughes

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.
Ciaran Carson

The Sun is Open is like fragments of a broken window reassembled into startling new form and meaning. The reassembling — usually into squares and boxes of type with fragments of sources — presents us with the jagged memorial of a broken time.
George Szirtes

To sit with the unspeakable, to spell it out in alphabet spaghetti, using only the letters given to you that day; to spell death using the adverts in the cash and carry; to spell life using the names on sweet wrappers, is extraordinary work. The Sun is Open is a work of extraordinary emotion, written with extraordinary control. It is also - perhaps extraordinarily - a work of joy.
Joanna Walsh

This is a murder book and it is not; for its pressing into type of the thing of trauma is a dislodging of the subject out of the rooms of powerful elegy into edge-space aslant: and its sequence is something of a revelation, stitching together text, archive, memory with found material and obstinate self-questioning that makes this one of the most startling elegies in print.
Adam Piette, Blackbox Manifold

About the author

Gail McConnell is from Belfast. She is the author of two poetry pamphlets: Fothermather (Ink Sweat & Tears, 2019) and Fourteen (Green Bottle Press, 2018). Fothermather was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Award. Gail’s poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, PN Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Blackbox Manifold and Stand, and she is the recipient of two awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. She has made two programmes based on her poetry for BBC Radio 4: Fothermather and The Open Box. She is Reader in English at Queen’s University Belfast and the author of Northern Irish Poetry and Theology (Palgrave, 2014). Gail’s writing interests include violence, creatureliness, queerness and the possibilities and politics of language and form.

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