* You are viewing the archive for October, 2015

Sean O’Brien, The Beautiful Librarians – review

O’Brien is a highly accomplished writer, but to my ear a surprising number of the poems in The Beautiful Librarians are undermined by weakness in what should be the animating interplay of syntax and metre. The title poem is just one of them. It’s full of fine phrases and nuances of implication, but for me it falls apart because of the way the syntactical impetus seems to collapse at the end of line after line, even as the sentence struggles on. In other cases, there are problems with the material itself. The political gestures in particular can seem tired and … Continue Reading

Sujata Bhatt, Poppies in Translation – review

“She powdered her eyelids / until they shimmered like butterflies.” Reading that, the butterflies seem to come alive and fly off the page. Such moments of startlingly vivid imaginary presence are sprinkled throughout Poppies in Translation, or rather they’re sprinkled through weaker poems and sustainedly present in some of the stronger ones.

Among the latter is the outstanding “Another Muse”, whose structure seems clearly influenced by D H Lawrence but which has a hypnotic music of its own. Even by Bhatt’s standards, the middle section of this poem is extraordinarily sensuous. What’s truly remarkable, though, is the way physical impressions are … Continue Reading

Caitríona O’Reilly, Geis – review

O’Reilly’s craftsmanship is dazzlingly assured. She has a powerfully developed auditory imagination, orchestrating patterns of rhythm, syntax and sound to brilliantly varied expressive effect. Her sentences are often long and complex, but each phrase rings out clearly, each image shapes itself distinctly in the mind, and the whole sentence drives through on a flow of sinuous and unbroken energy. She’s an intellectual adventurer, too: her love of out-of-the-way words sent me to the dictionary or Wikipedia quite often, always with pleasure and a sense of mental enlargement. When she uses arcane words she does so with a vivid sense of … Continue Reading