Sunday, August 28, 2016


Simon Lewis is known to some of us through educational and technology circles. But another side is his work as a poet (he won the emerging poetry Hennessy Literary Award last year). Now Doire Press has published his collection Jewtown, and it's well-worth buying. His fine first book of poems takes an interesting angle on a mostly-forgotten episode in Irish history - not Irish immigrants in the USA or England, but the arrival in Cork in the late 19th century of Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia.

In 'Shalom Park' near the end of the collection we see the cyclical nature of immigration. In 'Zedekiah' an immigrant with English loses his purpose as the fruitseller Mazel starts not to need his words any more. In 'Cobbler' the narrator is proud of his expertise in creating a better boot than any 'lousy American'.

Here Simon writes in the Irish Times about his book: "In the five years I have spent creating Jewtown, I’d like to think I have thrown a little bit of light back to a city... I also hope that I’ve managed to convey how any immigrant might feel when they arrive in a new country."

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