Colin Sloan with his new book of poems.
A RAPIDLY rising star of Northern Ireland's
literary scene from Drumbeg has once again joined forces with
one of the province's best known press photographers to produce
their second collection of poems and images.
'Straight Outta Belfast' by Colin Sloan, a
member of staff at Waterstone's in Bow Street and former
newspaper picture editor Brendan Murphy takes a thought
provoking and moving look at aspects of life in the city during
the early years of the 21st century.
The second book by the two men who became
friends during Mr. Sloan's 16 years at Waterstone's Royal Avenue
branch repeats the highly successful formula of their first
collaboration 'From Lambeg to the Drum' with the poet's words
giving voice to the photographer's images.
Each of these images captures a precise slice of
life in a city where the physical scars of almost four decades
of conflict maybe fading but the mental scars remain.
The photograph and poem entitled 'Farewell to
Arms' sums this situation up perfectly. The image shows a mid
morning scene in a Donegal Street cafe but is dominated by a
newspaper poster on a lamppost outside which reads 'IRA farewell
At a table by the window are two elderly
ladies. In one of the verses of the accompanying poem Mr. Sloan
articulates the thoughts of many people of their generation in
which they appear to address the violence which maintained a
stranglehold on the city for so many years.
'Where did the time go, what were we
You were the backdrop that stole my looks and
The soundtrack for my smokebreaks, always a dead
Other poems and their accompanying
photographs reflect how the traditional continues in a rapidly
The image entitled 'Behold the Cloth of
Angels' shows people leaving St. Mary's Church in Chapel Lane
after an Ash Wednesday service - a scene which has been repeated
annually since the historic place of worship opened in 1784.
However, in his poem Mr. Sloan reflects how
noise levels around the church which now stands close to the
Castlecourt Shopping Centre have increased over the years.
'The Call to Mass competes with the drone
The reversing bin lorry beyond the door;
Chapel Lane is a bottle neck of rolling barrels,
automated shutters, delivery vans and trinket stalls.'
The book features a total of 30 photographs and
In his preface Mr. Sloan explained: "What we
have tried to compile is a snapshot of daily life for a set of
very different individuals and related places we might be very
familiar with already, but that have been embellished through
these atmospheric photographs and given me a tale to tell.
"Many of these characters and places are
vulnerable. We can only try and document them here so they are
The foreword to 'Straight Outta Belfast' is
written by Michael Faulkner who said the book would 'strike a
chord' with anyone who sees the city as 'an old friend who has
been through a great deal and is emerging with bewildering haste
into a bright but mildly unsettling future'.
'Straight Outta Belfast' is published by the
Brehon Press and costs £9.99.