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The third collection from the prize-winning Irish poet

Celebrated as an unusually original poet – nervy, refreshing, deceptively simple – Leontia Flynn has quickly developed into a writer of assured technical complexity and a startling acuity of perception. In Profit and Loss, her third collection, Flynn examines and dismantles a fugitive life. In a remarkable extended sequence, she takes a long hard look at time spent in the shared and rented flats of a ‘half-baked Belfast demimonde’ – places of cheap wine, dodgy landlords, potted plants and neglect – from a position of relative safety. The poet then takes another leap: showing a mastery of formal rhyme as she relaxes into the effortless, rangy rhythms of the long title poem – an extraordinarily moving reflection on mutability and mortality prompted by the spring-cleaning of a life’s detritus. Going though the memento mori of cassettes, old photographs, address books, ‘boarding passes, rail cards, ticket stubs’, the poem evolves from a private reliquary to a public obsequy – for a life unexamined until now. Beginning with flood and ending with the gold of an opening sky and a baby daughter, ‘Profit and Loss’ offers the possibilities of hope and repair, and casts its raking light over the whole collection – throwing it all into a deep, satisfying relief.


Leontia Flynn disentangles complicated feelings with extraordinary elan and maturity. She has a natural's feel for cadence and melody, and launches her singing line boldly and with a propulsion that energises her often elaborate syntax...Affectionate and truculent by turns, disenchanted but relishing the world around her, quick-witted and big-hearted, Leontia Flynn looks like the real thing.

Michael Longley

Flynn's is one of the most strikingly original and exciting poetic voices to have emerged from Northern Ireland since the extraordinary debut by Muldoon 35 years ago...She doesn't put a foot wrong on the page.

Fran Brearton

Leontia Flynn really has something special...the achieved voice and assurance of a poet who knows exactly what she is talking about.

John Burnside

Drives, Leontia Flynn's second book of poems, like her remarkable first book These Days, was exact and casual and formally adept, a bit like an Irish (and female) Frank O'Hara, and not a bit like anyone else.

Adam Phillips, Guardian Books of the Year

Bathetic maybe, but is shows that profits - just - outweigh the losses

Independent on Sunday

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    September 15, 2011

    Jonathan Cape

    80 pages

    RRP $36.99

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  • EBook


    September 1, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    80 pages

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