“An epic for an age without heroes, Did You Put The Weasels Out? is a celebration of the modern mythology that takes place in every small town. A modern update of the 8th C Gaelic saga ‘The Táin’, written in Alexander Pushkin’s fiendish ‘Onegin sonnet’, Niall Bourke takes strict form to the extreme, and turns it into a hilarious, sharp-sighted satire of ordinary people’s neuroses, indulgences and four-AM fears.
Abandon your preconceptions: Bourke’s prose-poetry operatic-verse-novel breaks all the rules – while managing to keep to them at the same time. Both traditional and undeniably of our time, Did You Put The Weasels Out? is poetry that celebrates the playfulness and uncertainty of being alive.”
In Praise Of Weasels:
“Sometimes, through no fault of anyone else, I find myself getting bored of knowing what to expect when I pick up a new collection. It takes a radical formal gesture to really refresh things, and that’s what I found in Niall Bourke’s Did You Put the Weasels Out? A surreal Onegin, endlessly, viciously playful, reinventing itself in every sonnet and sonnet-footnote like a linguistic Mandelbrot set. And what might have come off as a sophisticated but purely academic exercise is instead governed by a scabrous, self-effacing wit and a deep sense of love and its absurdity, which anchors every flourish into prose poetry and free verse and runs throughout the appendices and index. It’s a debut so energetic, so bursting with ideas and insistent music, it reminds you why you started writing in the first place and, whether you like it or not, that you won’t be able to stop.” Luke Kennard
“Should you happen to have weasels to put out or bring in, actual or metaphorical weasels, you can entrust them to Niall Bourke — and all the better should they be weasels with an appreciative eye for the human comedy, its quirks and its dark corners. Genuinely innovative in its bravura mastery of form, a genre-breaker that comes at the reader from some alien point of the compass, HAVE YOU PUT THE WEASELS OUT? is impressively sure of itself — and it earns the right to be. Here is a significant debut.” Theo Dorgan
“London-based Kilkenny man Niall Bourke can hardly be accused of repetition or lack of originality…Entertaining, occasionally echoing At Swim-Two-Birds and sometimes Rubberbandits…Niall Bourke fails to disappoint.” The Irish Times
“Well now, here’s a curio…the tragi-comic story of an Irish emigrant’s blossoming mid-life crisis, a re-imagining of the legend of Cú Chulainn and a formal experiment which begins as a series of Onegin sonnets and coagulates into a wild jumble of indices, footnotes and poems-within-poems. Ribald, raw and touchingly melancholic, it’s a work which veers between bathos and mythic grandeur at the turn of a page. At the very least, the ambition of the thing is impressive. Bourke is an unquestionably talented poet. He flits deftly between forms and fills his verse with new-minted images…Although Bourke’s milieu is chiefly the familiar and the everyday, a sense of distortion pervades, making many of his poems feel as half-drunk and bulbous as the pub-addled supporting cast of boozers, tramps and disgraced geologists. This is a restless debut brimming with ideas…A dive inside is heartily recommended.” Nick Garrad, Storgy
“Like Flann O’Brien, Bourke makes extensive and eccentric use of footnotes throughout – often the footnotes themselves have footnotes … as you proceed you become attuned to the style and it adds layers of richness and depth to the poems … Bourke takes layering to a whole different level in two poems which are given lives of their own by thinking/speaking verse in cartoon bubbles (again bringing O’Brien to mind in At Swim-Two-Birds where internal characters are given unexpected life in relation to their author, but here it is the Pushkin sonnets themselves which appear to be coming to life, as post-modern an idea as anything I’ve ever read).” Chris Edgoose
“Niall Bourke’s poetry novel Did You Put The Weasels Out? was a hard one to review … because there were so many lines that I wanted to quote that I nearly ended up quoting the whole darn thing … Even the numerous footnotes are in verse. It is an impressive undertaking and is written with aplomb.” Giles Turnbull
“Part-sonnet, part-prosecco, part-small furry animal — this absurd and delightful sequence of domestic mythologies is a much-needed assuaging sausage for our times.” Chrissy Williams, author of Bear
“If you want elegant prose and earnest exhortations, sadly you have come to the wrong place.” Floyd Sprouse
“An oddball collection that staggers through the fringes. I’m still not sure why it was sent to me.” Dr. Kenneth Grogan
“I am not endorsing this. It has nothing to do with wind turbines.” Jack Brett, Ecopower Developments
Extract From Did You Put The Weasels Out?
Goethe writes: ‘Be bold, and mighty
Forces will soon attend your aid.’
It runs in Latin too, more tightly:
Carpe Diem. Both solid and staid
Maxims – to pull up your collar,
Clamp down fedora tight and saunter
Outside to face down the drawls
And unsure roars of future squalls.
But just how apt is this advice
To jam a foot inside the door
Of chance? Or should we ignore
It as dangerous (if concise)
Nonsense? A man towels his chin.
And it’s here, dear reader, we’ll begin.
 This hat, as we will see, is not as innocent or esteemed as it seems.
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