Keening with Spital Tongues
By Kathleen Kenny


"'The past is a foreign country', wrote LP Hartley. 'They do things differently there.'

"And yet how often we try to smuggle ourselves back across the borders of history and memory.

"Kathleen Kenny's Keening with Spittal Tongues and Tom Kelly's Love-Lines are strong and moving portraits in verse of north-east family life.

"Kenny writes touchingly about the generations of women in her Geordie-Irish family, 'the ones you imagine/in muddled petticoats/and full grey dresses/apple-cheeked/and hot-tempered/running shoeless/in myths of redness.'

"Jarrow-born Kelly writes about the layers of family memory, parents, grand-parents and children, hospitals and funerals, 'the same old story' of unspoken loyalties like a 'loop tape refusing/to snap, spool away.'

"Reading these two books is like looking through someone else's photograph albums containing the complex collective memories and stories, lies and silences that hold a family together.

"'On the one hand there is the common urge to live in the past/when everything was perfect.'

"On the other hand, we sometimes need to 'remember not to remember.'"

- Andy Croft, Morning Star


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