Twenty-Six Letters of a New Alphabet


Anne Tannam’s beautiful collection, Twenty-six Letters of a New Alphabet, invites the reader to reflect on the quiet joys of daily living — swans on the canal, the comfort of home — but does not shy away from the challenges that make up the fabric of a life.  The poet turns her brave, unflinching gaze upon the inevitable sorrows of ageing and bereavement with an understated self-awareness that will speak to all readers. There is deep empathy here for the plight of those who have no home and those who have fled their homes in search of shelter. This collection offers a collage of experience, where conversations with the dead, memories and meditations on the present are woven together in a kind of stock-taking, looking back over the rites of passage on the journey, and those yet to come. A heart-warming collection, full of wit and wisdom.

Liz McSkeane


Salmon Poetry 2021 ISBN 978-1-912561-31-5

These compelling, beautiful poems reveal a poet who has long found an original footing in the society in which she lives, finding in it a source of inspiration. Anne Tannam is energetically aware of the global sphere of injustice and beauty, of unfair destinies and healing gestures. Festivals and birthday celebrations register as sources for connecting with the life-force in all its forms, but also with mother-love. Mid-life is evoked as an opportunity for renewal, ‘the universe leaning across the table,/gesturing with both hands,/eager to fill me in’, and a possible breast tumour occupies the same space as Schrödinger’s Cat. Elsewhere in this book, Yeats’ hazel wood still lives through a hazel sapling which unfurls an alphabet of hope. The redressing voice of inner charity at work in her lines raises hurt and loss from the silt of memory and creates something serene with it. Dublin viewed as a local space is suggestively evoked in images and visions of people she has loved. And it is this tender voice that conspires with other, socially-engaged poems, creating an authentic collection that will speak to readers everywhere.

Mary O’Donnell