Review of Tied to the Wind Written by Afric McGlinchey

The review was written by Anne Daly

 Tied to the Wind is elemental. An auto-fictional long-form work by the poet Afric McGlinchey, it blazes colour, a vibrant mosaic that depicts a young girl’s journey across continents and through the rocky seascape of childhood and adolescence. It is a sleek and muscular work. Spanning over 300 pages, it sweeps the reader from the sunshine and dust of Zambia, to the drizzle-soaked monotheism of Ireland and back to the volatile menace of a pre-independence Zimbabwe. 

With The Waves, Virginia Woolf attempted to create a narrative that moved like water inside people’s minds. In a similar way, McGlinchey’s prose-poetry streams across the page with both the insistence and gentleness of moving air. She captures the inner life, the visceral moments of being of the young narrator (Itosha) with language that is compelling and which sustains its momentum across the length of the work. This sense of movement is reinforced with breaks in the narrative that describe the build-up to, execution and aftermath of a sky dive. These sequences mirror the narrators hurtle through her adolescence, a free-fall through the unfamiliar where one has to flail and clutch and reorder themselves in order to survive. 

I really enjoyed how Tied to the Wind revels in the delight of language. Afrikaans, Irish, Bemba and French flit across the pages, in context, unperturbed and understood. Words, the feel of them in a mouth, their symbolism, how they are used to communicate, form the bedrock of Itosha’s interpretation of her experiences in these countries with their colonialist scars.  In a similar way, other voices break into the narrative at times, siblings or parents correcting Itosha’s narrative or adding their own perspective. These additional voices add to the sense of doubleness that runs throughout, the alchemical fluidity of what is to exist, of what it is to be human. 

The style is diary-like and naturally, the reader will wonder how much of this is memoir and how much is fictionalised. Time is unreliable, it passes by in hours, sometimes days or months. There is a sense that the narrator is trying to capture something intangible in a glass jar and present it to us, but the realities of life – alcoholism, sexual assault, uncertainty and loss, continually intrude adding fissure upon fissure, little cracks that threaten the whole. The glamourous world of adulthood viewed through the eyes of a child, gradually reveals its tawdry underbelly, steadily and relentlessly.  

Tied to the Wind speaks to the senses. It is saturated with a rich descriptiveness that really comes alive in the mind. Like Itosha, whose element is water, it pushes and pulls the reader along like a strong current, sometimes turbulent, always absorbing.   

published by Broken Sleep Books

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