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By John O'Donnell

Sunlight: New and Selected Poems


John O’Donnell’s Sunlight: New and Selected Poems draws on his three previous collections, adding a number of new poems which, among other things, record the loss of the poet’s mother in some of his most moving poems to date.



Poetry’s first impulse is lyrical. John O’Donnell’s poetry is lyrical and his poetry also combines narrative and dramatic qualities in both his private and public poems. Lyric, narrative and dramatic qualities are found in ‘Volpi’ the prose poem that opens this book, Sunlight, O’Donnell’s New and Selected. It seems right that in this poem O’Donnell brings his reader back to a time and place when his imagination was stirred by an eccentric teacher. With admirable, unsettling honesty, O’Donnell paints a vivid portrait of insensitive, cruel adolescents but also reminds us of the ‘glamour’ and the ‘danger’ of invention and creativity. Here, O’Donnell is on high alert and, again and again, the occasions that have prompted the poems in this collection begin with a disciplined observation that leads to insight, understanding. And, as with all poetry, how something is said is more important than what is being said …
—Niall MacMonagle, from the Introduction

The tone is often moral and high-minded but never didactic or sanctimonious. O’Donnell’s ability to make connections with the lessons of history makes this poetry memorable.
— Mary O’Donnell, Poetry Ireland Review

 The Shipping Forecast

for my father

Tied up at the pier in darkened harbour
the two of us below, the cabin’s amber
light; me surly in a sleeping-bag, fifteen,
and you, past midnight, calmly tuning in
to the Shipping Forecast, long wave’s
crackle, hiss, until you find the voice.
What’s next for us: rain or fair? There are
warnings of gales in Rockall and Finisterre.
So near now, just this teak bulkhead
between us, and yet so apart, battened
hatches as another low approaches, the high
over the Azores as distant as a man is from a boy.
I think of my own boat one day, the deep.
Beside me the sea snores, turns over in its sleep.

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Product Detail

  • ISBN: : 9781910251317
  • Size: : 140 x 216 mm
  • Pages: : 152
  • Published: : May 2018

About The Author


John O'Donnell was born in 1960. He has published three previous collections of poems, Some Other Country (2002), Icarus Sees His Father Fly (Dedalus Press, 2004) and On Water (Dedalus Press, 2014). Sunlight: New and Selected Poems, with an introduction by Niall MacMonagle, is published by Dedalus Press in 2018. His awards include the Hennessy Award for Poetry, the Ireland Funds Prize, and the SeaCat National Poetry Prize. As a fiction writer his work has appeared widely in recent years, and in 2013 he received the Hennessy Award for Fiction. A senior counsel, he lives and works in Dublin. He has been a member of the Board of Poetry Ireland, among other institutions, and has served on the Board of The Arts Council.

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