Belfast Confetti by Ciaran Carson (Poem Summary)
March 1, 2018
Belfast Confetti Analysis – A Poem by Ciaran Carson
Suddenly as the riot squad moved in it was raining exclamation
Nuts, bolts, nails, car keys. A fount of broken type. And
Itself – an asterisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a burst
of rapid fire ...
I was trying to complete a sentence in my head, but it kept
All the alleyways and side streets blocked with stops and
I know this labyrinth so well – Balaklava, Raglan, Inkerman,
Odessa Street –
Why can't I escape? Every move is punctuated. Crimea Street.
Dead end again.
A Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face -shields. Walkie-
talkies. What is
My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going?
A fusillade of question-marks.
The most striking element of ‘Belfast Confetti’ is the way Carson uses the idea of punctuation within this scene of violence and confusion.
For example, after an explosion, it begins ‘raining exclamation marks’. This is effective because exclamation marks suggest surprise or fear. However, Carson also uses punctuation to approach the difficulty of translating violence and trauma into language. Language aims to capture meaning and make that meaning stable and knowable. Yet trauma and violence resist stability and communication.