All Down Darkness Wide

In his searching memoir, All Down Darkness Wide, Trinity College Dublin academic Seán Hewitt (J.M. Synge: Nature, Politics, Modernism) makes his fraught relationship with a Swedish man named Elias a lens for examining how mental health issues affect queer poets coming to terms with their sexuality. The book's unforgettable opening is set in the Liverpool graveyard where Hewitt had assignations with anonymous men: "Meeting men at night, all those years, I let the ghost inside me out." His secret self, suppressed in the closet during his teenage years, flies out to meet other ghosts: his college boyfriend, Jack; the gay men lost to AIDS; and the English poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, from whose work Hewitt took inspiration and the memoir's title phrase. Chief among the memoir's spectral presences is Elias, Hewitt's former partner.

Blending biography and history with raw personal experience, All Down Darkness Wide--winner of the 2022 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature--is as lyrically written as any book of poetry and advocates for self-expression as a route out of sadness. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

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