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  • Published: 1 September 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448112814
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 80

Profit and Loss

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 her third collection, Flynn examines and dismantles a fugitive life. The first sequence moves through a series of rooms, reflecting on aspects of the author's personal and family history. Using the idea of the haunted house or the house with a sealed-off room, and Gothic tropes of madness, doubles, revenants and religious brooding, the poems consider ideas of inheritance and legacy.

The second section comprises a magnificent long poem written in the months leading up to the banking crisis and presidential election of October 2008. Taking as its occasion a flat-clearing, it assumes a more public voice (inspired partly by Auden's 'Letter to Lord Byron'), and reflects on aspects of the rapid social and technological change of the last decade. An extraordinarily moving reflection on mutability and mortality prompted by the spring-cleaning of a life's detritus, 'Letter to Friends' evolves from a private reliquary to a public obsequy.

Its collapse back into private griefs, including the poet's father's decline into Alzheimer's disease, is pursued in the third section of the book. Here the theme of a tallying of private and public balance sheets, of different kinds of profit and loss, widens to include poems of motherhood and marriage, the possibilities of hope and repair.

  • Published: 1 September 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448112814
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 80

About the author

Leontia Flynn

Leontia Flynn was born in County Down in 1974. Her first book These Days (2004) won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize, and saw her named one of twenty ‘Next Generation’ poets by the Poetry Book Society. Her second collection, Drives, won the 2008Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and a major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her third collection, Profit and Loss, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. She was awarded the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry in 2013 and the AWB Vincent American Ireland Fund Literary Award for 2014.

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Praise for Profit and Loss

An outstanding Audenesque long poem, “Letter to Friends” makes this book essential reading, as it brilliantly captures the zeitgeist…

Sarah Wardle, Poetry Review

My favourite book was Profit and Loss by Leontia Flynn, demonstrating her unrivalled capacity as a good-humoured but devastating observer of the modern secular scene. “Letter to Friends”, Flynn’s long poem about the way we live now, is a masterpiece.

Bernard O’Donoghue, TLS Books of the Year

Flynn’s place as one of the strongest and most skilful poetic voices of her generation is confirmed in Profit and Loss… [In “Letter to Friends”] like Auden, she addresses important issues here in a language that is both playful and serious, and in a form that is, if not “large enough to swim in”, at least robust enough to contain the many concerns she raises in it, from the delights and torments of personal and familial memory to the function and value of poetry in (postmodern) society.

Philip Coleman, Irish Times

…A stunning third collection. Though she’s the youngest poet on the T.S. Eliot shortlist, Flynn writes with a sharp-eyed almost fatalistic wisdom. Her striking 320-line poem in iambic pentameter “Letter to Friends”, could be described as a State of the Union address – one that is highly personal but that takes stock of the larger world. It is this broad view that is one of her great strengths, as is her tone: sometimes earnest, sometimes irreverent, but invariably appealing.

Kathryn Maris, Time Out

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

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

John Burnside

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

A witty, often poignant, auditing of the poet's life and times... A serious book, engaged with the world in which we live; and it is engaging too - thoughtful, prescient and eminently readable. Flynn's humour, her ability to entertain, and her astute powers of observation are wonderful gifts. She is one of the most original and accomplished poets of her generation.


Cape enlarges its excellent stable of poets with Belfast-born Leontia Flynn.


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